Are you wondering whether your diet impacts on the health of your eyes?
An active lifestyle, a healthy diet and good hydration all contribute to good eye health.
Certain foods, rich in nutrients such as omega-3 and vitamins, help keep the vision cells in our eyes working properly.
Which nutrients are good for our eyes?
Vitamin A plays an essential role in keeping the eye hydrated, thus preventing dry eye.
It also supports the retina, which is made up of cells that transform light into nerve impulses that are interpreted as images by the brain. These cells need vitamin A to function correctly.
Vitamin A is essential to limit the appearance of symptoms such as reduced visual acuity and dry eye, and may also help tackle cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Where can I find vitamin A? In egg yolks, calf’s liver, butter, meat, fish, carrots, tomatoes, apricots, spinach, pumpkin, lettuce, peppers and melon. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant and precursor of vitamin A. It plays an important role in vision. You can find it in carrots, apricots, sweet potato, mango, papaya and tomatoes, as well as spinach, parsley and broccoli.
Vitamin C is needed to fight free radicals, which cause cell ageing. It protects the cornea and the lens from oxidation and helps prevent cataracts. Other powerful antioxidants such as zinc and vitamin E are also beneficial for vision cells.
Where can I find vitamin C? In citrus fruit, kiwi, green leafy vegetables (parsley, spinach) and cabbage.
LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN
Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants. They also belong to the carotenoid family. They help prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The macula is the central part of the retina and helps us see in fine detail so we can read, write, drive, recognise faces and so on. The central part of the retina is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin pigments, which protect the macula from light damage. These antioxidants may help prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Where can I find lutein and zeaxanthin? Yellow and orange fruit and vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, sweetcorn, peppers, citrus fruit etc.) and green fruit and vegetables (spinach, cabbage etc.).
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential to keeping the retina healthy and combating dry eye. Omega-3 is renowned for its beneficial impact on the cardiovascular system and also helps to keep the eyes hydrated and prevent dry eye. It also plays a preventative role in age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Where can I find omega-3? In fish, particularly oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines) and omega-3-rich plant oils (rapeseed, walnut, linseed).
Watch out for omega-6 fatty acids (saturated fats), as these have the opposite effect to omega-3. If consumed to excess, they can harm the heart and blood vessels. It is therefore a good idea to limit your intake of omega-6-rich foods (sunflower oil, red meat, cooked meats, fried food, pastries etc.).
Vitamin D is essential for combating short-sightedness and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Where can I find vitamin D? Vitamin D is produced in our skin when exposed to UV light. Spending a few minutes in the sun every day will give you enough vitamin D. Some foods contain a little vitamin D, but not enough to meet our needs: fish oils, liver and egg yolk.
In addition to eating a nutrient-rich diet, it is essential that you stay well hydrated: drink plenty of water at regular intervals (1.5 to 2 litres per day). Tear fluid—which is responsible for removing unwanted substances from your eyes (foreign bodies, dirt, dust, eyelashes)—does not work properly if you do not have enough liquid in your body. Irritation can then occur and, in some cases, cause lasting damage to your eyes.
IF YOU ARE SUFFERING DUE TO DRY EYE, PLEASE SEE AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST.