The inner, back section of the eye has a lining called the retina. This tissue contains light-sensitive cells that send visual information to the optic nerve, and the optic nerve then transmits these images to the brain. If your retina tears, this could result in changes to your vision. Knowing the ways that nutrition may play a role in strengthening your retina will help you choose foods to protect your eyes and vision.
A retinal tear may cause you to notice new floaters, or black spots that pass through your vision, and you may also notice flashes of light. The floaters will not disappear, but they may settle, appearing only occasionally. The flashes of light may occur periodically over a period of days or many weeks, explains the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. If you experience these symptoms, you should contact your eye doctor for an evaluation. She will dilate your pupils and examine the back of the eye to make sure you do not have a more serious condition.
Diet cannot treat a retinal tear, but your eye doctor or other health professional may recommend a diet rich in certain nutrients in order to prevent retinal tears and other eye diseases. The retina naturally holds nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, and the retina requires nutritional replenishment of these pigments, says the American Optometric Association. Vitamin C aids in keeping healthy tissues in the eye and throughout the body, as well as aiding in keeping the blood vessels of your eyes healthy. Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc may also help promote healthy retinal tissue.
Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include many dark green, leafy vegetables. These include kale, spinach, chard and collard greens. Add fruits to your diet to ensure adequate intake of vitamin C. Oranges, apples, peaches and grapefruits contain significant amounts of vitamin C, as well as tomatoes and spinach, says the American Optometric Association. Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts. Select fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna. Zinc-rich foods include eggs, salmon and beef.
Your health care provider may recommend that you take a multivitamin or other supplement to ensure that you have the proper intake of vitamins and minerals. Before starting supplements, discuss your diet, medications and the supplements you currently take with your doctor.
Always discuss dietary changes with your doctor. Some foods may interact with medications or health conditions, and your health care provider can help you to determine your nutritional and health needs. Many new floaters or loss of side vision may indicate a retinal detachment, a condition that requires immediate medical attention and repair in order to prevent permanent vision loss, explains the National Eye Institute. If you experience floaters, flashes of light or vision loss, no matter the time of day or day of the week, you should contact an eye doctor.