We live in a world where we stare at a screen for a majority of our day, and we all know that cannot be good for our eyesight. A lot of things can affect our eye's overall health: dryness, vision problems, cataracts, retina problems, and macular degeneration. One way to prevent these from happening is to be mindful of what we eat.
"A healthy diet will help us prevent issues such as dry eye, which can be extremely irritating to the patient," says ophthalmologist Alberto Distefano, MD. "One doesn't need to find ways of getting extra vitamins or minerals, but eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish [can help]." We asked Distefano to give us a list of the best foods we can eat to provide our eyes with the vitamins and minerals they need.
Scroll down to see what he says about the best foods for eye health.
According to Distefano, foods like kale contain lutein and zexanthin, which are important "free-radical scavengers." "[They take] away byproducts that are harmful to the eye. [They also protect] the retina from macular degeneration and [prevent] cataracts," he says.
Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in keeping eyes hydrated. "These are important in the regular maintenance of neural tissue, which is helpful to the maintenance of the retina," says Distefano. "It is also important in childhood development of the connections between the eye and brain, being all part of the nervous system, [and] also helps in maintenance of ocular lubrication, preventing dry eye." He advises buying wild-caught salmon over farm-raised salmon because wild salmon has high levels of omega-3s.
We all know that citrus fruit has loads of vitamin C in it. According to Distefano, vitamin C protects the retina and the lens from free-radicals.
Distefano says that with dairy products have zinc in them, which is an important mineral that provides vitamin A to the eye. Vitamin A is essential to ocular health. You can also find zinc in egg yolk.
Speaking of vitamin A, Distefano claims that it is the most important vitamin for the eye's overall health. "Vitamin A is involved in an important step involving the molecules used by your retinal cells that allow you to see. It is also important in the health of the front of the eye, the cornea and conjunctiva. A deficiency [in it] can lead to severe dry eye with damage to the cornea and conjunctiva, as well as loss of vision, especially in low-light conditions," he says. Other foods that contain vitamin A include sweet potato, leafy greens, and squash.
Distefano says vitamin E is another antioxidant that helps protects the retina and the lens (where a cataract develops) from free-radical damage. Along with nuts, you can find vitamin E in sweet potatoes, dried apricots, and sunflower seeds.
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