Getting an annual eye exam is an important part of maintaining healthy vision, but eating a balanced diet can also serve to keep your eyesight sharp as well. Your eyes require vitamins, fatty acids and antioxidants to function properly and to prevent loss of vision due to disease. Including certain foods in your diet that contain these nutrients improves your chances of better vision and decreases chances of vision loss as well.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables contain plenty of vitamins, such as A, B-12 and C, and the mineral calcium, which are important for good health and vision. However, these vegetables also contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for the functioning of the retina, as noted by the Macular Degeneration Association. These substances might delay or prevent vision loss from age-related macular degeneration. Good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include chard, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage and sprouts.
The egg has a bad reputation because most people associate it with elevated cholesterol levels. Eggs have some important health benefits for the eyes; eating one egg per day can increase your levels of lutein and zeaxanthin by up to 30 percent, according to The-lasik-directory.com. Eggs also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which might reduce dry-eye symptoms or lower the risk of glaucoma. The National Eye Institute is conducting studies to better determine the vision benefits that these fatty acids might have, as noted by North Dakota State University.
Eating more fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines has been found to improve heart health, but these fish also might have benefits for the eyes as well. Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which might decrease your risk of macular degeneration and glaucoma, as well as dry-eye syndrome, according to the Macular Degeneration Association. Fatty fish also contain vitamins A and D; both of these nutrients help keep the retina healthy. Eating two to three servings a week can protect your vision and prevent the development of eye disease.
Brightly Colored Fruits and Vegetables
Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables contain vitamins that are important to eye health. The classic vision vegetable is the carrot, which contains large amounts of vitamin A, but other vegetables -- such as pumpkins, squash and sweet potatoes -- also contain vitamin A and are a part of a healthy diet, as noted by MedlinePlus.com. Vitamin A -- while necessary for a healthy retina -- also can help protect the eye from sunlight damage. Sunlight exposure can contribute to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Dark Foods: Chocolate and Berries
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and substances called flavonoids, according to The-Lasik-Directory.com. Flavonoids lower your LDL, or bad cholesterol, and protect the blood vessels in your body -- including your eyes. Other dark foods, such as bilberries, blueberries, dark cherries and blackberries, also contain antioxidants and flavonoids. Research suggests that the flavonoids in these dark berries might slow down macular degeneration and cataracts, as noted by the Macular Degeneration Association. These berries also contain vitamin C, which helps protect the eye from age-related degeneration, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State.
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions can also play a role in improved vision and eye health. Garlic, onions, shallot and capers all contain sulfur, which is important to the health of the lens of the eye, according to The-Lasik-Directory.com. Garlic also contains selenium, which works to support the antioxidant vitamin E to protect cells, as noted by EyeDoctorGuide.com.
- The-Lasik-Directory.com: Nutrition for Better Vision
- North Dakota State University: Eating for Your Eye Health
- LocateADoc.com: Six Foods That Improve Your Vision
- Tampa Eye and Specialty Surgery Center: True or False -- Eating Dark Chocolate Can Lower Your Risk of Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease
- EyeDoctorGuide.com: Minerals, Bioflavonoids and Other Compounds for Eye Health
- MedlinePlus.com: Vitamin A
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State: Vitamin C