A balanced nutritional intake is important for eyes to remain healthy. Adding certain nutrients to our diet can help preserve vision and reduce risk of certain eye diseases.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Excessive sun exposure, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption will create free-radicals molecules that can damage and kill body cells. Thus, we need vitamin C to repair and grow new cells. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits (orange and lemons), kiwis, blueberries, strawberries, chili peppers and broccoli. According to the Age-Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS), antioxidants when taken in combination with other nutrients, it can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- Vitamin E
Another powerful oxidant is Vitamin E which also helps to repair cells. It is commonly found in nuts (almonds and peanuts), vegetable oil (wheat germ oil and sunflower oils) and sunflower seeds. Similar to Vitamin C, it helps to reduce risk of progression from intermediate to advanced AMD by about 25% when combined with certain nutrients.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are important nutrients found in green leafy vegetables and other brightly colored foods. They are key nutrients to protect the macula, which is the area of the eye that gives us our central vision. Spinach and peas have plenty of these nutrients. Other foods with useful amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin include romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, broccoli and carrots. And while not all are leafy and green, eggs and wolfberries also are a good source of these nutrients.
Zinc is an essential mineral or “helper molecule”. It is needed for the production of vitamin A from the liver to retina to produce melanin (a protective pigment in the eyes). Foods rich in zinc include red meat, shellfish, legumes and whole grains. Deficiency of zinc can cause night blindness.
Generally, it is best to obtain most nutrients through our daily food intake, including two to three servings of fish per week and plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables. Taking multivitamins or eye vitamins can fill the nutritional gap in a less optimal diet. If you plan to begin a regimen of eye vitamins, be sure to discuss with your ophthalmologist as taking too many supplements can cause problems especially if you are taking prescription medications.
If you are looking for some new and home cooked recipe, you can find several great recipes from “Food for your eyes” which are designed to boost your eye health.
“Food for your eyes” is a unique recipe-cum-self-help book aimed to educate the public about the prevention of AMD through diet. The author Ms Goo Chui Hoong, dietitian and Ophthalmologist Dr Kenneth Fong has translated the recent scientific research of dietary methods to prevent AMD into simple recipes for the Asian diet. This book also contains a lot of detailed information on common eye conditions and various supplements for the eye. The book is now available for purchase in OasisEye Specialists.