Frank Salvatore
Health and Lifestyle

The Link Between Vision and Diet

October 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Your vision does not have to decline with age. Eating a healthy diet throughout your life can help maintain good eyesight throughout your senior years. It may even be possible to improve your vision with a proper diet.

Anatomy of the Eye

The thickness of the eye lens, along with the shape and length of the eyeballs greatly determine your near and far sighted vision. The retina, at the back of the eye, is also critical for vision with its light-sensitive cells. The macula, which is part of the retina, is protected by a pigment, made up of zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin, and lutein. These plant compounds can not be made by the body, therefore need to be consumed with diet. This pigment absorbs light and protects the macula from blue light and UV rays.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin Supplements

Vision tests can be performed to evaluate the retina’s health, the ability to see colors, night vision and how much protection the macula has against harmful rays.

As eye health often does decline with age, due to improper nutrition and overuse, the supplements lutein and zeaxanthin are often suggested. These amino acids can improve night vision as well as macular pigments and color perception.

Studies also suggest these nutrients can slow down age-related macular degeneration, which is the number one cause of blindness among the elderly.

How Much Do You Need?

There is no recommended daily intake for these amino acids, but studies have found that 10 mg per day of lutein and 2 mg per day of zeaxanthin are beneficial. Additionally, studies suggest adults get only 1 to 2 mg of lutein directly from their diet every day.

Research evaluating one year of supplements of these amino acids found the combination helped improve vision in people who had normal vision at the start of the study. This may also be consumed with food.

Foods that Protect Vision

Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach. These nutrients are also found in produce that is orange- and yellow-colored.

Studies have shown that orange peppers have the highest amount of zeaxanthin of many other fruits tested.

Egg yolks are also a potent source of lutein and zeaxanthin. According to a recent study, adding a bit of egg to your meal can also increase the absorption of carotenoid as much as nine times. Eggs with bright orange yolks from pastured, free-range hens have the highest levels of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Vitamin C and Cataracts

Vitamin C has been shown to prevent cataracts, which commonly lead to vision loss. Over 50% of Americans wind up with cataracts by the age of 80. Studies have shown that
people who consume a diet that is more rich in vitamin lower their risk of cataracts by 30%. The best food source of vitamin C is acerola cherries.

Animal-Based Omega-3 and Blindness in Diabetics

Diabetics who routinely eat omega-3-rich fish reduce their risk of diabetic blindness by a 48%. Diabetic blindness occurs when there is reduced blood flow to the retina. This risk reduction is attributed to decreased inflammation levels. Naturally raised sea food is typically high in omega-3s.

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a powerful promoter of eye health. The only food source that has astaxanthin in it aside from microalgae is sea creatures that eat the algae, such as salmon and shellfish.

This powerful antioxidant fights against several eye disorders, such as cystoid macular edema, glaucoma, diabetic blindness, inflammatory eye diseases, and retinal arterial occlusion. It also supports the eyes’ visual acuity and energy levels.

Anthocyanins

Dark berries contain high amounts of anthocyanins, a healthy antioxidant for the eyes. These are also rich in essential fatty acids, which gives it additional anti-inflammatory properties. Research has shown that berries such as the bilberry may be exceptionally useful for preventing macular degeneration.

Avoid Artificial Light

Chronic exposure to blue light from sources such as LED and fluorescent lights is likely to contribute to the blindness epidemic. The extent of the benefits of avoiding blue light is in its early stages, but researchers are looking for ways for people to be able to avoid blue light for their eye health while simultaneously maintaining their circadian rhythm.

Eating Right for Your Eyes

Aside from eating vegetables rich in carotenoids, organic pastured egg yolks, and wild Alaskan salmon, it is important to keep your blood sugar stable, because excessive sugar in the blood dehydrates the lens of the eye. High blood sugar can also obstruct blood flow to the retina.

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Frank Salvatore