Patients rarely ask me about foods that are good for eyes. And that’s a shame because when you eat, you are also feeding your eyes.
However, once many people start eating a nutrient-rich diet, one of the effects they notice is that they can see better. Especially at night. Or that they no longer have dry, itchy eyes.
So, if you want to keep your peepers healthy or improve your eyesight, you might want to check your diet.
In this article, I’ll talk about foods that are good for eyes and easy ways to incorporate them in your meals. Plus, I’ll also share tips that can help you see better naturally.
Why does eyesight decline?
Most of us believe that our eyesight is doomed to decline as we age. And that there is nothing much we can do about it.
But the truth is that you CAN slow down and even reverse failing eyesight. It all starts by understanding how the light signal that enters the eye can be distorted, resulting in poor vision.
Only when you understand the ROOT CAUSE of your failing eyesight, will you be able to prevent it from worsening.
To keep things simple, picture the eye as having four main structures:
1. The cornea
Consider this thin, transparent tissue as the window through which light enters your eye.
Now, if that ‘window’ is somehow damaged, the light that comes through will be scattered in all directions, right?
Well, the cornea is covered with the tear film, a fluid layer that keeps it smooth. Anything that disrupts this fluid layer will damage the cornea, resulting in a damaged ‘window’ and dried eyes. In other words, the light that comes in will be dispersed and you will see an unclear image.
Major culprit: Inflammation can damage the tear cells which produce the tear film that protects the cornea.
2. The lens
The cornea directs, or focuses, the light on the lens which, in turn, focuses the light on the retina.
Now, imagine looking though a dirty window. You won’t be able to see clearly through that window, correct? Well, the same thing happens when the lens becomes clouded – this is what is known as cataract. If your lens is clouded, the retina will not receive a sharp image. And your vision will be all blurred.
For the lens to do its job properly, it also needs to be flexible. This flexibility is what allows the lens to alter its shape when you are focusing on very far or very close objects.
However, if the lens hardens, it may become less able to focus on nearby objects. (And that’s why some people need to hold newspapers further away to read what’s written.)
Major culprits: Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage the proteins in the lens, causing the lens to become cloudy. High blood sugar levels can also cause the lens to swell, resulting in a blurry vision.
3. The retina
Once this light-sensitive tissue receives light focused by the lens, it converts the light ray into impulses or neural signals. The center, and most sensitive part of the retina, is known as the macula.
If the macula is damaged, a condition known as macular degeneration occurs. Result: poor vision especially in the dark. This happens when:
- Debris accumulate between the retina and the choroid which supplies blood to the retina.
- Blood vessels below the retina start growing into the retina.
Major culprit: Heart disease.
4. The optic nerve
The neural signals from the retina travel through the optic nerve to the brain where they will be ‘interpreted’ as an image.
If the eye pressure increases, the pressure will slowly damage the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss.
Now, that you know how vision loss occurs, let’s move on to what you can do about it.
Top 11 foods that are good for eyes
These small colorful gems are loaded with various antioxidants. Of interest are anthocyanins, the natural plant compounds responsible for the purple, red, and blue hues of berries.
Research shows that these anthocyanins can protect the eye structures from constant exposure to reactive oxygen species. If these chemicals are left to accumulate in the eye, they can damage the proteins that make up the lens.
Moreover, anthocyanins can help tone down inflammation in the eyes. As mentioned earlier, inflammation can damage the tear glands, resulting in dry eyes.
And according to a Swiss study, participants who consumed goji berries for 90 days experienced a 26% increase in blood levels of zeaxanthin. This is another antioxidant that helps protect the eyes.
How can you get more berries in your diet?
- Add them to your green smoothies.
- Try making fruit leather using berries.
- Bake these raspberry coconut flour muffins.
- Make berry ice-cream using berries and full-fat coconut milk.
2. Wild caught Atlantic mackerel
Cold water fish such as Atlantic mackerels are richer in omega-3 fatty acids compared to farmed fish.
Why? Simple: they can peacefully swim and feed in their natural habitat.
So, most of us know that omega-3 fats are famous for their heart protective effects. But how can fats protect the eyes?
Remember the tear film that shields the cornea? Well, besides water, this tear film also contains mucous and oil.
The omega-3 fats in the salmon can help the Meibomian glands, on the edge of the eyelids, maintain the oily layer of the tear film. This oily layer covers the water layer of the eyes and, thus, helps prevent excessive evaporation of water from the eye’s surface.
If the Meibomian glands are unable to produce sufficient oil, water will be rapidly lost from the eye. This is one of the leading characteristics of the dry eye syndrome.
What if you also want to supplement?
If you wish to take an omega-3 supplement, make sure it contains at least 325 mg EPA and 175 mg DHA per pill. You want to take 2 of these pills per day along with a meal that contains fat to help boost absorption.
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