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3 Key Nutrients to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
March 24, 2023
November 6, 2023

If you’ve ever thought that you’d be stuck eating carrots your entire life to have good vision, that is not entirely true! While carrots are good for us, and they contain valuable beta-carotene (which is converted to Vitamin A by the body), there are many other ways we can protect our eye sight with some simple additions to our diet.

If you are not interested in reading, click the video below!

Here are a few nutrients important for maintaining eye health:

1. Vitamin A

This nutrient is essential for the proper functioning of the retina, which is responsible for converting light into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. Specifically, it is involved in cell differentiation in the cornea and junctival membrane, is an antioxidant, and also helps convert lights into brain signals. It is also important for maintaining our low-light vision. Severe vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and begins with poor low-light vision and drying of the cornea and conjunctiva.

To improve the health of your eyes, eat more plant foods high in vitamin A, including carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale.

And from animal sources, find Vitamin A in eggs, liver, and dairy. Vitamin A is fat-soluble though, so ALWAYS consume it with a little healthy fats like avocado, nuts, or other seeds to help with digestion.

2. Lutein and Zeaxanthin

These function in the macular pigment of the retina to shield the eye from light damage. Macular pigments filter blue light (like those from computer and phone screens), and takes an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory role.

You can find lutein and zeaxanthin in

  • leafy greens
  • Egg yolks
  • wheat
  • yellow peppers
  • yellow corn

3. Omega-3 fatty acids

Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is found in the photoreceptor cells of your eye. It is known to provide light protection (like a natural sunscreen), helps regenerate corneal nerve cells, and maintain cell membranes in the eyes and elsewhere.

Eat more fatty fish and flaxseeds. The Omega-3-rich fatty acids in these foods protect your eyes.

A balance of Omega-3 and also Omega 6 fatty acids in the diet appears to be most beneficial at a 4 to 1 ratio, according to some smaller research studies.

It is important to have a balanced diet that include these nutrients to maintain eye health. Additionally, it is important to have regular eye exams, especially as you age. Other nutrients are also being investigated and may support eye health, but more research is still needed on: Vitamins C, D, and E, Zinc, copper, selenium, and also glutathione, and dietary flavonoids.

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