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PLEASE NOTE: This article on nutrition and eye health is for information purposes and is not to replace the advice of a doctor or specialist. Please see your healthcare provider for any concerns you may have!

The Connection Between Eyesight and Nutrition

“It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living.”

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Sick of the cheesy eye quotes? So are we!

We’re here to tell you how important having healthy eyes is, and how eating the right kinds of food and nutrition can make a big impact on your eye health!

I’m sure you know that we have five senses: eyes to see, tongue to taste, nose to smell, ears to hear and skin to touch. It’s arguable that the most important sense is eyesight. As humans, we use sight for up to 80% of all impressions. If other senses, like smell or hearing, start to deteriorate our eyes will work better to keep us from getting in any danger.

Healthy eyesight is not only important for seeing, it is important for how to act and feel in other settings such as at work, school and in your personal life. Eye strain can make you experience fatigue, headache and cause you to squint… which is a sure-fire way to get wrinkles!

Most Common Eye Conditions

Eye exams tend to be a neglected task that most people don’t get done. But below are some eye conditions that can happen if you don’t take good care of your eyes!

Cataracts: when a clouding appears on the eye’s natural lens, behind the iris and pupil. It is the most common reason for the loss of vision in people aged over 40.

Retinopathy is when any damage happens to the retina of the eye causing impairment of vision. Diabetic retinopathy is very common in people who suffer from diabetes and is categorized when the blood vessels in the retina are damaged. This causes many light sensitivity issues.

Glaucoma is a condition where fluid is not drained properly in the eye. It can lead to too much pressure in and around the eye and impair vision and even lead to blindness if it isn’t treated.

Macular degeneration is the number one cause of vision loss that is irreversible in people over 60. It is when the center of the retina, called the macula, starts to decay. When this happens, reading, recognizing faces, using a computer, watching television and driving are all affected.

If this wasn’t enough to convince you to get regular eye exams, diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, multiple sclerosis, the risk of stroke and even heart disease can all be detected through the eyes!

The Importance Of Food And Healthy Eyes

There are many different nutrients that are important to prevent eye disease and keep our vision sharp. We compiled a list of them and what foods you can incorporate that contain that particular nutrient!

Beta-carotene may reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration. You can find this micronutrient in carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash (We’re sensing an orange theme here…), spinach and kale!

Bioflavonoids may prevent against cataracts and macular degeneration and the is found in tea, oranges, lemon, limes, blueberries, cherries and legumes!

Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent dry eyes, which is very common and uncomfortable! Increase your intake of salmon, herring, fish-oil supplements, ground flax and walnuts to prevent this.

Carotenoids protect your eyes from blue-light. Blue-light is what is reflected off of computers and cell phones. Luckily, vegetables that are green, yellow or orange in color, like kale, spinach, peppers and squash may help with this. If you are behind a computer screen often like we are, you could purchase some blue-light glasses!

Selenium (when combined with Vitamin C and E) are important for healthy eyes and you can consume it through food in brazil nuts, brown rice and seafood!

Vitamin A may prevent night blindness and dry eyes. Most people think that carrots give you vitamin A, but it is only found in animal-based products! (Beta-carotene is found in carrots, which is a precursor for Vitamin A.) Try adding some chicken or beef liver (if you’re brave enough), eggs, butter and milk to your diet!

Vitamin C can protect against cataracts and Macular Degeneration and is found in food such as red peppers, strawberries, oranges, broccoli and lemons.

Vitamin D reduces your risk of getting Macular Degeneration and is found is salmon, milk, fortified orange juice and of course, from sunlight.

Vitamin E, when combined with Vitamin C and Carotenoids may reduce the risk of eye conditions, so increase your intake of almonds, sunflower seeds and hazelnuts!

Zinc works with vitamin A to reduce the risk of night blindness and you can find this nutrient in pumpkin seeds, oysters and dark chocolate.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that are essential in also preventing cataracts and Macular Degeneration. These are found in spinach, kale, turnips, squash and collard greens.

That is a lengthy list of micronutrients that are important for healthy eyes, but fortunately, there are some repeat offenders! I think we can all agree that increasing your consumption of plant-based foods such as fruit and vegetables may prevent you from getting any eye diseases in the future.

Now that you know all the foods that are great for eye health, you may want to be informed of the foods that are the worst for eye health. High monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are found in foods such as chips, margarine, packaged cookies and cakes and french fries can all negatively affect your vision (and let’s be honest, your waistline too).This is because of the unhealthy fats and cholesterol and can cause plague build on your macular vessels and decrease blood flow to the eyes. As if you didn’t need any more reasons to stay away from junk!

Food And Meals For Healthy Eyes

Like we’ve talked about before, you want to “eat the rainbow” meaning make your meals and snacks colorful to ensure you are getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. To make “healthy eyesight” recipes you could try making soups with the peppers, sweet potatoes, kale and legumes, or a spinach salad using butternut squash and almonds, a multi-vegetable stir-fry or even just snack on some raw fruit or a handful of nuts!

Here are some LFLC recipes with some of the above micronutrients that you can try tonight!

Blueberry & Kale Smoothie

This blueberry and kale smoothie will give you a large boost of beta-carotene, bioflavonoids and the beloved antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. Have this for breakfast or sip on it in the afternoons for a mid-day pick me up!

 

Breakfast Stuffed Peppers

These stuffed peppers are an easy way to incorporate some vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-carotene. Plus, they’re gluten-free, paleo and vegetarian making them perfect for the whole family!

 

Almond-Crusted Squash Wedges

These almond crusted squash wedges are a) delicious and b) packed with beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. We love having these as a side at dinner or a mid-afternoon snack! They’re vegan, paleo, gluten-free and only take 30 minutes to make! Sounds like a winner to us.

 

Please visit an eye doctor with any questions and concerns about your eye health!