Ocular nutrition and eye health is an important part of helping maintain our vision and eye health as we age.
Healthy vision and the human eye is related to the health of the individual parts of the eye – the cornea, iris, macula, lens, optic nerve, pupil, retina and the vitreous humor.
Based on information provided by the U.S. National Eye Institute, results of nutrition and eye health food studies have shown that consuming certain foods provides ocular nutrition.
- Eat that spinach, Pop-eye.- Eating foods (leafy green vegetables such as spinach) rich in carotenoids is associated with reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
- Eat your greens and keep ‘em clean – There is a reduced likelihood of developing cataracts for persons with diets higher in lutein and zeaxanthin (broccoli, green peas, spinach, turnip greens and zucchini.
- It’s not a Yolk – Persons with diets high in lutein (egg yolks) and zeaxanthin were also less likely to need cataract surgery. Persons ages 40-59 with diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin may experience reduced risk of developing adult macular degeneration.
- It’s the Berries – Eating blueberries has been associated with the reduction of eye fatigue. Apricots are rich in nutrients such as beta carotene and lycopene that help promote good vision.
Beta carotene is converted as needed by the body to vitamin A, an important antioxidant that resists oxidative stress damage to cells and tissues, including the eye lenses.
Bilberries grow on small bushes and were used by British pilots to improve their night vision and eye health night vision. Fresh bilberries and bilberry jams would be sources of this ocular nutrition.
Bilberry seems to improve eye health by increasing the blood supply to the eyes (smoking, for example, decreases the blood supply to the eyes). The substance in bilberry that nourishes eye tissue is called anthocyanosides.
- Eskimos know – Eskimos have almost no incidence of open-angle glaucoma with their diet rich in Omega 3 cold-water fish. Omega 3 is also associated with numerous other health benefits relating to improving heart health, arthritis symptoms relief and lowering cholesterol. It is certainly one of the best foods for clear eyesight and eye health.
Besides the nutrients and ocular nutrition foods described above, the following nutrients are associated with vision and eye health.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid – ALA improves the performance of other antioxidants in the body
- L-Taurine – helps protect the eyes from UV light and helps strengthen the retinal cells
- Lycopene – a strong antioxidant found in tomatoes
- N-Acetyl Cysteine – helps protect the eyes from damage by UV light and strengthens the immune system
- Quercetin – a strong antioxidant that helps maintain lens transparency; exists in small amounts in red wine (yeha)
- Vitamin C – helps the body resist damage by oxidation (damage from long-term exposure to oxygen and light)
- Zinc – helps support macula and retina health; levels of zinc and eye health are definitely related