A healthy diet can be a great way to take care of your eyes. But do you know which nutrients are good for them? Vitamins A, B, C and E plus certain minerals all help protect your eyes from age-related vision problems such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet also helps you maintain a healthy weight. This reduces your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, which can cause blindness if left untreated.
Orange-coloured vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A. These include carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. As for fruits rich in beta-carotene, try mangos and apricots.
Low in fat, high in fibre and packed with zinc, beans and legumes in your diet can help keep your eyes healthy. They include kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas.
Oranges and orange juice are a great source of vitamin C, along with other citrus fruits. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and therefore can protect your eyes from the damaging effects of free radicals.
Dairy foods including milk (especially from grass-fed cows) and yoghurt are rich in vitamin A and zinc. Vitamin A helps keep your corneas (the front part of your eye) clear and has an important role in helping you see at night. Meanwhile, zinc helps protect your retina (the back of your eyes), which detects light.
Green leafy vegetables are rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These are natural chemicals, known as carotenoids, that stop leaves on trees from drying out in the sun.
Try including spinach, kale and Swiss chard in your diet or adding spinach and kale to smoothies. Broccoli and Brussel sprouts are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin.
Beef, pork and chicken all contain zinc, which is used by the eyes to create the protective pigment melanin found in your retina. For plant-based sources of zinc, eat wholegrains, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds.
Oily fish are high in omega-3, which helps reduce the symptoms of dry eyes and protects against AMD. Oily fish include salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and tuna. Vegetarians and vegans can get omega-3 from chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seed oil, walnuts and algae-derived supplements.
Eating foods packed with vitamin C every day is a good way to keep the blood vessels in your eyes in good condition. Oranges, papaya and strawberries, as well as many vegetables, especially red peppers, tomatoes and cauliflower, are all good sources. Try to eat these vegetables and fruits raw as cooking them destroys the vitamin C they contain.
Eating a handful of seeds or nuts each day will boost your vitamin E levels. This vitamin helps prevent cataracts. Almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and peanut butter are all good sources of vitamin E. Seeds rich in vitamin E include sunflower, sesame, chia and pumpkin seeds.
Swap refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, pasta, cakes and pastries for wholegrains as they contain vitamin E, zinc and niacin, which all keep eyes healthy. Brown rice, whole oats, wholemeal bread and pasta, and quinoa are all good alternatives.
As well as eating a healthy, balanced diet, there are a number of other ways to keep your eyes healthy.
If you smoke, you are more likely to develop cataracts, AMD or damage the optic nerves in your eyes.
Wear good sunglasses
Sunglasses protect your eyes from damaging ultraviolet rays (UV rays). Buy sunglasses that block out 99-100% of UVA and UVB. Some contact lenses offer UV protection, but wear sunglasses too, as an extra layer of protection.
Wear protective eyewear
If you’re working in an environment with debris or harmful chemicals, it’s essential to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes.
Wear sports goggles
Some sports have a higher risk of injury to the eyes, such as hockey, tennis and squash. Ensure that you wear adequate eye protection.
Take a rest from the computer screen
Staring at a digital screen for many hours can strain your eyes, giving you blurred vision, dry eyes and a headache. Regularly take a screen break by following the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, stop looking at the screen for 20 seconds and focus your eyes on something about 20 feet (6 metres) away.
Make caring for your eyes part of your everyday life to enjoy healthy vision for longer. Also, ensure you attend your regular eye tests, as often as your optometrist advises.
If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.
Niched in the care sector, Cahoot Care Marketing offers a full range of marketing services for care businesses including: SEO, social media, websites and video marketing, specialising in copywriting and content marketing.
Over the last five years Cahoot Care Marketing has built an experienced team of writers and editors, with broad and deep expertise on a range of care topics. They provide a responsive, efficient and comprehensive service, ensuring content is on brand and in line with relevant medical guidelines.
Their writers and editors include care sector workers, healthcare copywriting specialists and NHS trainers, who thoroughly research all topics using reputable sources including the NHS, NICE, relevant Royal Colleges and medical associations.
The Spire Content Hub project was managed by:
Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager
Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences. Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.
Catriona Shaw, Lead Editor
Catriona has an English degree from the University of Southampton and more than 12 years’ experience copy editing across a range of complex topics. She works with a diverse team of writers to create clear and compelling copy to educate and inform.
Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing
Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing. He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.