Eating a balanced diet is important for maintaining eye health. Researchers have found that certain eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye syndrome or macular degeneration may be slowed or prevented altogether by certain vitamins and minerals, according to the Lighthouse International website. These nutrients are not cures for any specific disease; patients should discuss dietary supplements and recommended levels of these nutrients with an eye doctor. Many of these antioxidants and nutrients can be obtained by eating fruits and vegetables or taken as supplements as needed.
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Beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, is an antioxidant that protects eyes from damage caused by free radicals, according to The Eye Digest. Beta-carotene may play a role in slowing down the development of age-related macular degeneration, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Beta-carotene may also protect eyes against night-blindness and dry eye syndrome, according to the All About Vision website. However, smokers and former smokers should avoid beta-carotene because there may be an association between beta-carotene supplementation and the development of lung cancer, according to The Eye Digest. Patients in that situation should consult a physician to discuss the role of beta-carotene in their health. Dietary sources of this antioxidant include carrots, sweet potatoes and kale.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Another two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, may prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, according to All About Vision. These antioxidants may protect the center of the retina from harsh and strong light, according to Lighthouse International. Both of these nutrients can be found in vegetables like yellow peppers, chard and broccoli as well as in fruit such as mangoes, according to the Royal National Institute of Blind People.
Selenium, in combination with antioxidants like vitamins A and C, may work to decrease the risk of macular degeneration, according to All About Vision. Shrimp, crab, Brazil nuts and brown rice are good sources of this mineral.
Vitamin A is a key factor in eye health and in the health of the retina of the eye. Vitamin A deficiency can cause the condition xerophthalmia, which is a form of childhood blindness, according to the Royal National Institute of Blind People. Vitamin A can also reduce the risk of dry eye syndrome, according to All About Vision. This vitamin may also play a role in preventing the development of cataracts, according to the Eye Digest. Good food sources of this vitamin include beef liver, eggs and milk.
Vitamin C may slow down the progression of macular degeneration when taken in combination with other antioxidants, according to The Eye Digest. Vitamin C may also lower the risk of cataracts and may impact the development of glaucoma, according to All About Vision. Food sources of vitamin C include strawberries, kale, oranges and cantaloupe.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant that can protect eyes from damage. According to All About Vision, vitamin E may slow the progression of macular degeneration when taken with other antioxidants like vitamin C and lutein. Examples of sources for vitamin E include almonds and sunflower seeds.
Zinc may help decrease the risk of night blindness and the development of macular degeneration, according to the All About Vision website. According to Lighthouse International, zinc may also slow down the progression of cataracts. Zinc can be obtained from dark meat turkey, oysters and beef.