Aging has a significant impact on your eye health. The health of your eyes and the quality of your vision both deteriorate as you age. Common age-related eye diseases include cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
While problems with eye health naturally come with old age, there is an easy yet effective way to prevent age-related eye diseases and keep your eyes in excellent condition.
The answer to age-related eye problems is nutrition.
Nutrition: keeping your eyes healthy from within
Eye health is crucial for everyone, especially if you’re a senior. After all, you need your eyes to perform a wide variety of tasks. You use your eyes to cross the street, to shop for groceries, and even to read your favorite book at night.
When most people consider eye health, though, they only think about external care. Seniors likely get regular eye check-ups, wear sunglasses when they’re outdoors during the day, and wear prescription contact lenses or eyeglasses if necessary.
External care plays a vital role in eye health, and wearing sunglasses outdoors or wearing prescription eyewear is important. However, taking these precautions isn’t enough.
For peak eye health, you also need internal eye care. To ensure the health of your eyes and keep your vision sharp and clear, you need to consume healthy foods so that you’re getting the nutrients that your eyes require.
The effect of proper nutrition on eye health
It may not seem like it, but the nutrients that you get from the food you eat have a considerable impact on your eye health. You can prevent age-related eye diseases by consuming specific vitamins and minerals. Doing so can mean the difference between still having clear vision at 60 years old and developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The nutrients that your eyes need
To prevent degenerative eye disorders and maintain the health of your eyes, you need to consume foods that contain the following vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A is one of, if not the, most essential vitamins for your eyes.
Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble compounds known as retinoids. Contrary to what its name suggests, vitamin A isn’t a single vitamin.
There are two vitamin-A compounds that are beneficial to your eye health: 1) preformed vitamin A (retinol) and provitamin A carotenoids (beta carotene). These two compounds help keep your eyes healthy by preventing oxidative stress and night blindness.
You can find these two compounds in certain foods, but you can only find beta carotene in fruits and vegetables.
Foods rich in vitamin A include:
- Sweet potatoes
Your eyes need vitamin C because they contain significant amounts of the nutrient.
Your eyes produce a fluid called aqueous humor that uses vitamin C to carry nutrients to different parts of your eye and maintain pressure within your eye. Consuming enough vitamin C enables the aqueous humor to properly function.
Foods rich in vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, limes, lemons)
- Bell peppers
Like vitamin A, vitamin E isn’t a single compound but a group of fat-soluble compounds.
Vitamin E compounds are antioxidants that help in cell repair, and these antioxidants are critical for eye health. According to a study, consuming vitamin E daily can lower your risk of developing AMD by 25%.
Since your body is unable to produce its own vitamin E, the only way you can get vitamin E is through the consumption of foods that contain the nutrient.
Foods rich in vitamin E include:
- Beet greens
Zinc is a mineral that helps transport vitamin A from your liver to your retina for melanin production. Your eye color is directly related to the amount of melanin in your eyes. If you have brown eyes, that means you have a high amount of melanin in your eyes. Meanwhile, if you have blue eyes, that means you have less melanin in your eyes.
Melanin isn’t just for eye color, though. Melanin also protects your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Similar to vitamin E, you can only get zinc by consuming foods rich in zinc.
Foods rich in zinc include:
- Pine nuts
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two antioxidant compounds that protect your eyes from the damage caused by free radicals. Your eyes contain lutein and zeaxanthin in abundance, which means consuming foods rich in these two antioxidants is integral for eye health.
Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include:
- Green peas
- Swiss chard
Eye health problems and vision deterioration are a natural part of aging, but there is a way to prevent degenerative eye disorders and keep your eyes healthy. By consuming foods that contain eye-friendly nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin, you can keep your vision clear even in your senior years.
By Jericho Gonzoles
Jericho Gonzales is a Content Marketing Specialist at Lens.com. Writing is his passion, and he specializes in tech-based and consumer product-based writing. His other passions lie in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction. When he isn’t busy with wordcraft, he loves to immerse himself in those worlds through novels, video games, TV shows, or movies.