Eye Health Blog by Dr. Corey Langford, Past President,Nebraska Optometric Association

DrCoreyLangfordIt is almost a daily occurrence that I hear the question “Which vitamin should I take for my eyes?”  Usually that question comes from patients who have a family history of macular degeneration and they want to do everything they can to counteract genetic dispositions to the disease. That question is usually followed by the patient expressing a lot of frustration and confusion regarding the vitamin aisle at their local pharmacy. I can’t blame them – have you looked at the number of options available and some of the claims made on the labels!  Confusing at best!

We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat,” and this is certainly true for your eyes as well as the rest of your body. Now, if your typical meal contains a dark green, raw, leafy vegetable coupled with a can of anchovies and washed down with a glass of red wine then you can stop reading now. You and your gross diet win! 

For the other 99.9% of you here are the six nutrients you ought to be paying attention to improve your chances of maintaining good eye health:

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin:  To help reduce your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), eat one cup of colorful fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, green beans, peas, oranges and tangerines four times a week.
  • Essential fatty acids:  Studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids such as flax or fleshy fish like tuna, salmon, or herring, whole grain foods, lean meats and eggs may help protect against AMD and dry eye.
  • Vitamin C:  Fruits and vegetables, including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers and tomatoes, can help minimize the risk of cataracts and AMD.
  • Vitamin E:  Vegetable oils, such as safflower or corn oil, almonds, pecans, sweet potatoes, and sunflower seeds are powerful antioxidants that can slow the progression of AMD and cataract formation.
  • Zinc:  A deficiency of zinc can result in poor night vision and lead to cataracts; therefore, consuming red meat, poultry, liver, shellfish, milk, baked beans, and whole grains on a daily basis is important.

More than two decades of extensive research have provided a better understanding of how diet and nutrition can not only keep our eyes healthy, but reduce the risk of certain eye diseases as we age. From dry eye to age-related eye diseases, research shows that nutrition plays a critical role in maintaining the health of our eyes.

For patients who aren’t confident that their diet covers all these nutrients, I recommend that you should be taking a multivitamin as part of your daily regimen.  For those patients who have the early signs of the aforementioned eye diseases you should consult your optometrist to get their recommendation specific to your situation.

For a list of quick and simple recipes that promote healthy eye sight and vision, visit: Recipes for Healthy Eyes