Although the treatments for eye disease have never been more successful, it is far better to avoid conditions like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration in the first place. Multiple studies appearing in academic journals show a correlation between eating certain foods and preventing eye disease.
Here Bay Area ophthalmologist Mark Mandel, MD, of Optima Eye, discusses the foods you should incorporate into your diet for healthier eyes.
Fruits with Vitamin C
Vitamin C may be best known for maintaining a healthy immune system, but it also has a lot of benefits for your eyes. This micronutrient boosts collagen production, which keeps your cornea and your eye’s blood vessels healthier. Research also shows that vitamin C consumption reduces your risk for cataracts.
Fruits with good amounts of vitamin C include kiwis, apples, peaches, cantaloupes, bananas and of course citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit.
When it comes to seedless produce, your best bet is to look for veggies that fit into these two categories:
Leafy (and usually dark) greens: Foods like kale, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, romaine lettuce and watercress are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that have been found to help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. They also have been shown to help your eyes better filter blue light, which can help you to avoid retinal damage.
Brightly colored veggies: Lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in many vibrant (think red, yellow and orange) vegetables such as carrots, peppers, corn and sweet potatoes, so do not hesitate to add some color to your leafy green dishes to enhance your carotenoid intake.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Multiple studies have connected fish oil consumption to decreased risk for both dry eye and macular degeneration. Salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring all have high omega-3 fatty acid content. If you would prefer to skip seafood altogether, though, you can also find omega-3 in walnuts, chia seeds and soybeans.
Researchers have found that switching from refined carbohydrates to cleaner grains slows the effects of macular degeneration by a significant amount. To reap those benefits, try brown rice instead of white, or whole-wheat bread and pasta instead of the white varieties. You can also add sides of quinoa or barley in place of more traditional starches to boost your eye health.
The thing to remember about all this research is that, even with a terrific diet, preventing eye disease is far from a guarantee. In the event that you do develop a condition that requires treatment to preserve your eyesight, schedule an appointment with ophthalmologist Mark Mandel, MD by contacting one of Optima Eye’s Bay Area locations. Email or call us at 877-210-2020 ext. 3 today.