Seeing clearly is something we may take for granted in our early years. But as time goes by, our eye health is something we all ought to pay more attention to — and what we eat may have an important effect.
Whether you're concerned about vision loss or just want to eat better to support your peepers, an expert in eye health advises starting your day with a spinach and tomato omelet with salmon.
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"Nutrition plays a big role in keeping our eyes healthy," says Jennifer Tsai, OD, a board-certified optometrist and founder of Line of Sight, an integrative eye care practice in New York City. "Regular eye checkups are important, but certain nutrients are like 'superfoods' for our eyes: They can help with retinal protection, keeping our macula healthy and preventing issues like dry eyes."
Dr. Tsai's breakfast not only sounds delicious, it's loaded with eye-supporting nutrients. "A spinach and tomato omelet with salmon is a great option because it offers lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3s and vitamin A and C."
Here's why you should try it.
1. It's High in Eye-Protecting Vitamins
Specifically, we're talking about vitamins A, C and D — all of which are vital to eye health.
You'll get a dose of vitamin A from the eggs, spinach and salmon in your omelet, which helps protect the cornea (the surface of your eye) and is involved in rhodopsin, a light-sensitive protein in the retina, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).
Vitamin C is another eye-protecting vitamin you'll get from the spinach and tomatoes in this breakfast. Vitamin C has been associated with a lower risk of developing cataracts and slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration and loss of visual acuity, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA).
Eggs and salmon are also good sources of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been tied to issues like myopia (nearsightedness), age-related vision loss, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye, according to an April 2022 review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
2. It Offers Important Antioxidants
This tasty omelet is full of antioxidant compounds that may help protect your eyes from damage.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, found in egg yolks and spinach, are antioxidants thought to protect the macula (the part of your eye that processes what you see directly in front of you), improve visual acuity and fend off oxidative damage, according to an April 2013 review in Nutrients.
These compounds have also been associated with a lower risk of eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, per the review.
3. It's Full of Healthy Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids, which you'll find in salmon and eggs, aren't just beneficial for your heart and brain health — they're especially important for your eyes, too. "Omega-3s keep our eyes working well and prevent dryness," Dr. Tsai says.
It's true: Research shows omega-3s play a role in visual development and retinal function, according to the AOA. They've also been shown to reduce inflammation in the eyes, enhance tear production and help support the eye's oily outer layer.
If omelets aren’t your thing, you can still support your eye health with your morning meal. “To craft a balanced breakfast for the eyes, include a mix of colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins," Dr. Tsai says. “A berry and nuts Greek yogurt parfait would be another great option because it contains antioxidants, vitamin C, protein and fiber."
- Nutrients: "Dietary Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Carotenoids and Their Role in Eye Health"
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences: "Vitamin D and Ocular Diseases: A Systematic Review"
- AOA: "Caring for Your Eyes: Diet and Nutrition"
- ODS: "Vitamin A Health Professional Fact Sheet"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Macula: Anatomy, Function, Conditions and Disorders"