Our vision is probably the most important of the five senses we all have. Eye health goes hand in hand with overall health.
The risk of developing the most common eye diseases such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma depends on age, genetics, chronic diseases and of course, lifestyle and diet.
These nutrients help maintain eye function, protect the eyes from harmful light, and reduce the development of degenerative diseases.
Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common causes of blindness in the world.
This vitamin is essential for maintaining cell sensitivity to light of the eyes, known as photoreceptors. If you do not consume enough vitamin A, you may have the so-called. “Night blindness”, dry eyes or other more serious conditions, depending on the severity of your deficiency.
Vitamin A is found only in foods of animal origin. The richest source of this vitamin is in the liver, egg yolks or dairy products. However, vitamin A is also found in antioxidant plant compounds called provitamin A carotenoids, which are found in large amounts in some fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids with provitamin A provide people with an average of about 30% of the vitamin A requirement. The most effective of these is beta-carotene, which is found in large quantities in leafy vegetables, spinach and carrots.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow carotenoid antioxidants known as macular pigments. They are concentrated in the macula, the central part of your retina, which is a layer of thin sensitive cells at the back of the eye.
They function as natural protection from sunlight and harmful blue light coming from computers and mobile devices.
Increased intake of lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin are usually found together in the diet. The best sources of these nutrients are: spinach, leafy vegetables, parsley, pistachios and green peas. In addition, egg yolks, sweet corn and black grapes are rich in these nutrients.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are “good” fats. In addition to helping reduce the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, arthritis, they also improve eye health. They occur in three forms – DHA, EPA and ALA.
DHA is the main component of the retina of the eye – which is the most important for your vision. Studies show that its intake reduces the risk of macular degeneration, as one of the leading causes of blindness. It is also important for the development of the brain and eyes during childhood. The best choice of Omega 3 is fish. Different types of fish contain different amounts of Omega 3. The best sources are salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and tuna. Avoid fish that contain high amounts of mercury, such as shark, swordfish and mackerel.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid found in vegetable oils. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that play an important role in brain function, normal growth and development and eye health. The most common sources of GLA are primrose oil and sunflower oil. Its intake reduces dry eyes.
The antioxidant vitamin C not only fights colds – it also helps our eyesight fight free radicals and absorb minerals and nutrients. Increased intake of this antioxidant reduces the risk of cataracts. The largest source of vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables, such as peppers, citrus fruits, forest fruits, leafy vegetables and broccoli.
Vitamin E is a group of fat-soluble antioxidants that protect fatty acids from harmful oxidation. Because your retina has a high concentration of fatty acids, proper intake of vitamin E is important for optimal eye health. Vitamin E deficiency can lead to retinal degeneration, which leads to blindness.
The best sources of this vitamin are almonds, sunflower seeds and vegetable oils, such as flaxseed oil.
Your eyes generally contain high levels of zinc. Zinc is part of many basic enzymes. Zinc using tissues in the eyes, because it plays a key role in proper cell division and growth of cells, i.e. formation of visual retinal pigments.
Zinc in combination with other vitamins helps to protect the retina and reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Natural sources of zinc are found in oysters, meat, pumpkin seeds and peanuts.