By Kalwyna Rathod
Eat right to nurture your eyes which have taken a lot of strain during the pandemic with everything going virtual
Your eyes are complex organs, comprising of various parts, each working together to produce clear vision. Eyesight being one of the most important senses, protecting your eye health is important to reduce the chances of blindness and vision loss and diseases like cataract and glaucoma. Needless to say, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is just the first step to overall health, including healthy eyes. Read on for a list of healthy food for eyes to maintain good vision and delay age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration, dry eyes, problems with night vision, etc.
Healthy food for the eyes
Eating a healthy diet is important for your whole body. The following nutrients play a key role in eye health.
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for eye development. This antioxidant makes for healthy food for eyes and helps maintain good eyesight by protecting the cornea, the outer surface of the eye, and by boosting functions of the retina, the light-sensitive lining of the eye that converts light to nerve impulses for the brain.
Ophthalmologist Dr Elfride Farokh Sanjana says, “This vitamin is most important for colour vision and low-light vision. Studies show that vitamin A deficiency can be a cause of night blindness, eye infections, dry eyes, cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and eye inflammation.”
This nutrient is one of the two major carotenoids that occur as a colour pigment in the macula and retina of the eye. Carotenoids are related to beta-carotene and vitamin A, and lutein protects the tissues of the eyes from sunlight damage by acting as a light filter. Lutein-rih food for the eyes also prevents age-related macular degeneration or vision loss in older adults.
This is the other major carotenoid that protects against age-related eye health issues. Zeaxanthin also improves visual performance as you age by improving contrast sensitivity, light sensitivity, and glare recovery. This nutrient acts as internal sunglasses by protecting your eyes from blue light, which is found in sunlight, light from digital devices like TVs and mobile phones, and certain types of indoor lighting.
Quite a few eye conditions are thought to be associated with oxidative stress, which is nothing but an imbalance between antioxidants and harmful molecules called free radicals in the body. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants and food that can combat the negative effects of free radicals. Dr Sanjana adds, “This vitamin not only benefits those with age-related macular degeneration and lowers the risk of cataracts, but also boosts the production of collagen, a protein that helps provide structure to the cornea and sclera of the eyes’ beauty.”
Another potent antioxidant, vitamin E protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals. This nutrient helps reduce the risk of developing cataract and macular degeneration, which are the most common age-related conditions affecting vision.
This essential trace mineral is known as the ‘helper molecule’. Zinc is found in high concentration in the retina and in the vascular tissue layer underneath, known as the choroid. Zinc plays a crucial role in transporting vitamin A from the liver to the retina, so the protective pigment melanin can be produced.
In addition to this, zinc protects against cataract, poor night vision and night blindness, optic nerve damage, and age-related macular degeneration. So be sure to eat healthy foods that are rich in zinc.
Essential fatty acids are the building blocks of the body, assisting the proper functioning of all organs, muscles, nerves, and cells. In adults, dietary fatty acids protect the eyes from dry eyes, lower the risk of glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.
Essential nutrients for the eyes
* Carrot, sweet potato, papaya and such colourful vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene. Vitamin A has important roles to play in eye health, while beta-carotene is needed by the body to make vitamin A.
* Leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin and vitamin C.
* Indulge in heaped servings of citrus fruits and berries to get your dose of vitamin C.
* Nuts like walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, etc. and seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds, etc. are rich sources of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Also, include legumes and lentils in your diet.
* Eggs are an excellent source of lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E, and zinc.
* Remember to stay hydrated through the day to dehydration and symptoms of dry eyes.