Did you know there are nutrients your eyes need? Without these 8 antioxidants for eye health you increase the chances of developing an age related eye disease. Diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and dry eyes can all be affected by the food you eat.
The problem is, people don’t know, or seldom think about the fact that eating affects your vision.
This is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) said “people need to be educated” and is probably why every eye organization wants 2020 designated the “year of the eye.”
Because 70% of people aged 45-65 ranked vision their most important sense, we wanted to provide you with trustworthy information on how to best take care of your eyes, no matter your age. We’ll cover:
- What age related eye diseases are
- How eating affects your vision and
- The nutrients your eyes need
As a bonus I’ve created a printable chart that shows the eyesight foods and how much you need per day. 8 Antioxidant Nutrients for Eye Health
Table of Contents
Age Related Eye Diseases
Eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts are the main cause for blindness and subsequent disability worldwide. As the name suggests, it’s also impacts the elderly. With the 55+ population expected to reach 108+ million by 2030, this is huge.
Today we’ll explore what age-related eye diseases are and then the nutrients your eyes need.
As the name implies, age-related eye diseases are more likely to occur as you get older. The root cause of these diseases is inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Free radicals are unstable atoms that rummage about our body trying to find a mate. Their rummaging and instability leads to damaged cells and a long list of diseases.
- Reactive oxygen species are unstable molecules that contain oxygen. They are also free radicals and bring about very similar scary effects.
Age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) impacts the macula of your eye and leads to loss of central vision. The macula detects light and sends signals to your brain that allow you to see images. It doesn’t cause total vision loss but losing central vision makes it hard to see faces, drive, or do any close-up work such as cooking and self-care.
Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve in the back of the eye is damaged. Overtime glaucoma slowly erodes your vision, making it difficult to see things in your periphery. Because it progresses slowly it’s important to get regular dilated eye exams.
Cataracts happen when the lens of your eye becomes cloudy and light can’t pass back to the retina. As cataracts develop your night vision might worsen, colors lose their vibrancy, or lamps and sunlight be too bright.
Your risk for developing any of the age-related eye diseases increases if you have other diseases such as
- heart diseases, or
- high blood pressure.
I know I want to eat food that’ll keep my eyes healthy as I age.
- Are you ready to start eating the nutrients your eyes need?
Nutrients Your Eyes Need
These nutrients can keep your eyes healthy and may also reduce the risk of developing age-related eye diseases.
Your eyes rely on healthy blood flow to receive the oxygen and nutrients needed for eye health. If you’re at risk for, or have, heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes these foods will help them as well.
Because eating foods to keep your eyes healthy will keep all aspects of “you” healthy.
Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light…” Matthew 6:22
This truth applies to our physical eyes and body just as much as it applies to our spiritual eyes.
8 Eye Health Antioxidants
Vitamin C is an important water soluble vitamin that also serves as an antioxidant in the body. As an antioxidant, it’s highly effective at preventing damage caused by the reactive oxygen species and free radicals that are generated during normal metabolic processes, and exposure to toxins and pollutants.
Bonus: Vitamin C helps to regenerate other antioxidants. Win!
Women need 75+mg of vitamin C per day.
Vitamin C rich foods are papaya, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and oranges.
Vitamin E is a family of 8 fat-soluble antioxidants. The main form found in the human body is a-tocopherol. Fats are prone to destruction by free radical oxidation and vitamin E steps in and prevents this from happening.
The retina, full of fatty acids, needs vitamin E to prevent its destruction. Good news – vitamin C helps regenerate vitamin E so it can continue knocking out free radicals.
Women need 15mg of vitamin E per day.
Almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds are great Vitamin E snacks.
B-carotene is a carotenoid that gives fruits and vegetables their yellow colors and is also the major dietary source of vitamin A. In combination with the nutrients listed here, b-carotene was found in a large study to reduce the risk of AMD.
This study used 17mg of b-carotene but somewhere between 6-17mg is advised for men and women.
The eye health nutrient B-carotene can be found in carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, and spinach.
In your eye, zinc plays a role as an antioxidant, in immune function, and the structure of proteins and cell membranes.
When you’re not getting enough zinc, oxidative damage increases and nerve-impulse communication is hampered. For healthy eyes, women need 8mg of zinc per day, and twice that if vegetarian.
Oysters, cashews, dungeness crab, and chickpeas are zinc containing foods that will keep your eyes healthy.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Lutein & Zeaxanthin are carotenoids with anti-inflammatory properties that both improve and prevent AMD. They’re also beneficial for cognitive function (see last week’s post here, for more on this topic), decreasing cancer risk, and improving cardiovascular health.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids found concentrated in the eye’s lens and retina (they’re in all but three parts of your eyes). These carotenoids are called macular pigments because of how they’re coloring works to protect your eyes from the damage caused by blue light, oxidative stress, and free radicals. But because your body can’t make them, they need to come from your diet.
Kale and spinach are the richest sources of eye health antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids (EFAs) your body requires, but can’t make. The two main forms are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Large amounts of DHA can be found in the eye’s retina and the amount of DHA bodywide impacts this.
Both EPA and DHA are anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulatory, and as such help prevent hardening of the arteries. Part of their anti-inflammatory action is what’s known as “resolvins”. This helps return damaged tissues to their natural God-created state.
Other omega-3 properties impact the fluidity, thickness, and permeability of your eyes. Together these actions help protect your eyes from age-related eye diseases and dry eye.
This is also the only eye health nutrient that should be supplemented. But because oil easily goes rancid and the FDA doesn’t test supplements, it’s important to eat omega-3 containing foods and then supplement with a tested product. I’ve included links to my favorites at the end of the post.
The amount of omega-3 fatty acids women need ranges from 1-3g per day.
The top three sources of omega-3 are wild caught herring, sardines, and salmon.
Trusted Omega-3 Supplements
Creating a Fullscript account will ensure:
- the supplements you order are delivered to protect against the elements &
- that you’re not receiving a “fake” version of a supplement.
Many supplements available online don’t actually contain the ingredients listed. You have to order supplements from a company who sells products that have been tested by 3rd party labs.
Gamolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid that’s also “essential” for our body. There’s a catch though – omega-6 fatty acids are inflammatory.
You might be wondering why God requires us to eat inflammatory food that could damage our body. I’ll explain.
As with all aspects of our diet, it’s about quality and quantity. God wants us to eat whole forms of omega-6 foods, not their processed forms (these are the ones that wreak havoc on our body). God also wants us to eat these foods in “moderate” amounts.
Currently American’s eat an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 15-16:1. And our current health epidemics reflect this.
Cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancers are all negatively impacted by the high consumption of omega-6 foods.
These foods should be eaten in a <4:1 ratio.
Okay, okay but why did I even include this inflammatory food?
Because eating healthy forms of it, in combination with the above omega-3 fatty acids, helps to protect your eyes.
Eating the nutrients your eyes need will help you get the approximate 30mg of GLA your eyes need.
Hemp seeds, barley, and oats are whole food sources of GLA that make it easy to eat for eye health.
Wow. That’s a lot of information but I hope it’s as encouraging to you as it is to me. I suffer with dry eyes because my eyes don’t produce the protective fatty layer and I’m also at risk for cardiovascular disease, have two autoimmune diseases, and have a long family history of cancers.
Maybe you have a similar history or maybe you just want to keep your eyes healthy. No matter your reasons, would you follow my lead and add the 8 antioxidants your eyes need to your diet? I’m sure no one wants to experience what age related eye diseases are like.
Remember though, diet doesn’t work like prescriptions. It takes time to undo the ravages of life, but if you commit to it, you’ll see all God wants you to. If you didn’t print the PDF with different nutrients your eyes need, you can download it here: 8 Antioxidant Nutrients for Eye Health
God created us to see because when our vision’s good we can see, and give testimony, to God’s works. As Sarah said in Wednesday’s post,
Until next time remember to…
“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:4