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Posted on 08-09-2016

Carrots may be the food best known for helping your eyes.  But other foods and their nutrients may be more important for keeping your eyesight keen as you age.

Vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids all play a role in eye health.  They can help prevent cataracts, the clouding of your eye lens.
They may also fight one of the leading causes of blindness among older people: age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Here are some powerhouse foods for healthy eyes.

Spinach and Kale

Antioxidants protect against eye damage from things like sunlight, cigarette smoke, and air pollution.  These leafy greens are loaded with two of the best for eyes, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Most people are short on these nutrients, but it's an easy fix.

According to Elizabeth J. Johnson, PhD, research scientist at Tufts University in Boston, eating a 10-ounce block of frozen spinach over the course of a week will help lower your risk of age-related eye disease.  Kale has double these nutrients.  Collard greens, broccoli, and bright-colored fruits like kiwis and grapes are ways to get them, too.  

Grapefruit, Strawberries and Brussels Sprouts

Vitamin C is a top antioxidant.  These foods are among the top sources of vitamin C.  Eat half a grapefruit and a handful of Brussels sprouts or strawberries (one-half cup) a day and your good to go.  Papaya, oranges, and green peppers are other good sources.

Seeds, Nuts, and Wheat Germ

Vitamins C and E work together to keep healthy tissue strong.  But most of us don't get as much vitamin E as we should from food.  Have a small handful of sunflower seeds, or use a tablespoon of wheat germ oil in your salad dressing for a big boost.  Almonds, pecans, and vegetable oils are also good sources.

Turkey, Oysters, and Crab

Just two oysters give you more than enough daily zinc, which helps to keep the retina of your eye in top working order.  A turkey sandwich is a great source, too.  Zinc can also be found in other meats, eggs, peanuts, and whole grains.

Salmon, Sardines, and Herring

The omega-3 fatty acids that help to keep your heart and brain healthy may also protect your eyes by fighting inflammation, helping cells work better, and aiding with the production of a good quality and quantity of tears.  Aim for at least two servings of cold-water fish a week.  Salmon, sardines, and herring have the most omega-3, but flounder, halibut, and tuna are also good sources.

Carrots, Pumpkin, and Sweet Potato

It's hard not to think about these foods at this time of year.  These deep orange and yellow vegetables and fruits are rich with beta carotene.  Beta carotene converts into vitamin A, which helps prevent blindness.  A small sweet potato, a carrot, or a bowl of pumpkin soup sets you up for the day.  Winter squash, kale, and red pepper are other top sources.

Supplements for Eye Health as You Age

If you are at risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are vitamin supplements that may help slow it down or keep it from getting worse.  Please read my September blog article about AMD and AREDS (and AREDS 2) vitamins.  These antioxidant vitamin combinations came to us from two very large, significant, National Eye Institute studies; it will be well worth your time to become familiar with this information.  


Use common sense when choosing the foods you eat.  I feel like an over-protecting parent, but I feel compelled to remind you that if you have allergies to any of the above foods - avoid them (e.g. peanuts or fish allergies).  Also, some of the vegetables - like kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach - are high in vitamin K.  This is usually a good thing, but people who use blood thinners like Coumadin or warfarin, monitor their blood clotting time.  Vitamin K foods alter blood clotting time, so check with your doctor to see if and how much of these nutrient rich foods is safe for you to eat. Another note of caution is for those who take statins to help control cholesterol.  Check with your doctor before eating grapefruit.

*Excerpts from this article were taken from the archives of WebMD and can be found by accessing that site.

​As usual, I am interested in your comments.  Please write to me at Info@drcharm.com. I have enjoyed hearing from you and answering your questions.  It's a pleasure to learn together.

Be well,
Dr. Charm

Anaheim Hills Family Optometry
6200 E. Canyon Rim Rd., Suite 101
Anaheim Hills, CA 92807
(714) 998-2020

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