Diminishing eyesight might seem like an unavoidable annoyance as you get older, but with the right diet you can hold on to accurate vision for longer than you might think.
For example, carrots and leafy green veggies are considered some of the best foods for your eyes because they provide antioxidants and eye vitamins, including vitamins C, E, A and zinc, along with carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. These protect the eye’s macula, lens and cornea while also lowering free radical damage and inflammation, which destroy tissue in the eyes.
As we get older, the eyes become more susceptible to damage caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and overactive immune system, which results in the body becoming flooded with defense cells and hormones that damage parts of the eyes.
How can eye vitamins keep your eyes young and sharp into older age? The Age-Related Eye Disease Study, a clinical trial concluded in 2001 that was sponsored by the National Eye Institute, found that a poor diet was a major risk factor for age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Obtaining plenty vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc were all found to significantly lower people’s risk, making them great natural treatments for macular degeneration and cataracts.
It’s been estimated that up to half of adults suffer from some sort of cataracts by the time they’re 75 years old.
Anti-inflammatory foods and those high in antioxidants have positive and preventative effects against eye-related disorders besides macular degeneration and cataracts too, including glaucoma, retinal nerve damage, loss of eye strength and partial vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy is another serious concern that can be managed with a healthy diet, and it’s currently considered the leading cause of blindness among working-age people.
Many eye vitamins effectively manage blood sugar levels and hormonal responses, plus absorb UV light and other rays within the spectrum that damage our eyes, such as blue light that’s omitted from technological devices like your phone, laptop or tablet. By lowering inflammation and the amount of blue light or UV light that’s able to enter the eyes, antioxidants help preserve healthy cells and prevent disorders, most of which currently there are no “cures” for.
So what are the best eye vitamins, and how, specifically, do they impact eye health? Let’s find out.
The Top 7 Eye Vitamins
An antioxidant that’s been nicknamed “the eye vitamin,” lutein protects both the eyes and skin. This anti-inflammatory, carotenoid phytonutrient is found in foods like leafy green vegetables, egg yolks, citrus fruits and orange veggies. Once consumed, it’s transported around the body, especially to the parts of the eyes called the macula and the lens.
Researchers at Harvard University have found that supplementing with six milligrams daily of lutein can lower the risk for macular degeneration by an average of 43 percent, proving “the eye vitamin” lives up to its name.
There are more than 600 different types of carotenoids found in nature, but only about 20 make their way into the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the most important since they’re delivered in the highest quantities into the eyes’ delicate macula. Just like lutein, zeaxanthin helps protect the eye’s tissue, lens and macula, which clears vision and prevents glare, light sensitivity or disorders like cataracts.
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