In the same way as a healthy diet is essential for a healthy body, a healthy diet is also important for maintaining healthy eyes. Nutrition impacts a number of eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, dry eye syndrome, and eyelid disorders. Good nutrition is also important for the prevention and management of Diabetes, which can affect many parts of the eye.
The Manitoba Association of Optometrists is a proud sponsor of the Children's Nutrition Council's Stone Soup fundraiser. Good nutrition starts young and healthy bodies make for healthier eyes.
Dr. Laurie Campogna, OD, and Dr. Barbara Pelletier, OD, co-authors of Eyefoods: A Food Plan For Healthy Eyes, recommend the following nutrients and daily/weekly targets.
Lutein and zeaxanthin 10 mg/day or 70 mg/week
These carotenoid antioxidants are present in the lens and retina, with high concentrations in the macula. They can help to protect the eye from ultraviolet light damage. Studies have also shown they reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Food sources include: spinach, kale and other green leafy vegetables, eggs, broccoli
Vitamin C 350 mg/day or 2450 mg/week
Vitamin C is highly concentrated in the lens of the eye and, as an antioxidant, helps to protect cells from damage by free radicals that can damage healthy tissue. Scientific evidence also suggests it may help prevent the formation of cataracts, and combined with other essential nutrients may slow progression of macular degeneration.
Food sources include: red, green and yellow bell peppers, broccoli, guava, papaya, kiwifruit, oranges, lychee
Omega-3 fatty acids:
from cold water fish (DHA/EPA) 500 mg/day or 3500 mg/week;
from plant oils (ALA) 1600 mg/day or 11,200 mg/week
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids are important for visual development and retinal function. Research also suggests that they may reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Omega-3s are useful in managing dry eye syndrome as they improve the production of a high quality tear film.
Beta-carotene 10 mg/day or 70 mg/week
Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that contributes to the orange colour of many fruits and vegetables, and can also be found in green leafy vegetables. It is converted to vitamin A in the body and when taken in combination with zinc and vitamins C and E, beta-carotene may reduce the progression of macular degeneration.
Food sources include: carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach
Vitamin E 15 mg/day or 105 mg/week
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protects cells from damage by free radicals. It is thought to protect the cells of the eyes, helping to prevent or slow the progression of age-related eye diseases.
Food sources include: oils, nuts, seeds, spinach, avocado
Zinc 10 mg/day or 70 mg/week
Zinc helps with the absorption of vitamin A and helps deliver vitamin A from the liver to the retina. Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, mostly in the retina and surrounding tissue.
Food sources include: seafood, meat, seeds, legumes, whole grains
Fiber 30 g/day or 210 g/week
Fiber is essential to good health and digestion. A healthy diet with adequate soluble fiber intake may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, and may help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Diabetes and its complications can affect many parts of the eye, potentially resulting in minor eye disorders, diabetic retinopathy, and increasing the risk of blindness. Maintaining stable blood sugar reduces the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Food sources include: legumes, psyllium, oats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains
For more information and recipes, visit eyefoods.com