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Eating for healthy eyes


Eat right for healthy eyes and good vision

Eating the right foods will benefit your entire body, including your eyes. The eye is an organ that requires a lot of oxygen*, so it is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress (an imbalance in the production of free radicals). It also has a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and significant exposure to visible light.

These and a number of studies that have shown that eating the right balance of nutrients can slow the progression of eye diseases or prevent problems, particularly in people who:

Studies show that a combination of antioxidants and zinc reduces the risk of progression to advanced AMD by approximately 25% in those with intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in one eye*.

What can eating for healthy eyes prevent?

As well as eating the right nutrition for good vision, there are also a number of eye diseases that can be slowed or prevented. They include the following:

What makes a healthy eye diet?

There are several key nutrients that, eaten on a regular basis, are particularly good diet for healthy eyes.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin

These reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including macular degeneration and cataracts. You find them in:

Vitamin C

Evidence suggests vitamin C can help slow the progression of macular degeneration. Foods high in Vitamin C include:

Vitamin E

Protects cells of the eyes from damage caused by free radicals that breaks down healthy tissue. Foods with Vitamin E include:

Essential Fatty Acids

Proven to be important for proper visual development and retinal function. They can be found in:


Highly concentrated in the eye, mostly in the retina and choroid, the vascular tissue layer lying under the retina. Zinc is found in:

How do I eat for healthy eyes?

So, now that you know what the vitamins and nutrients for eye health, how do you fit them easily into your diet?

Omega 3 fatty acids

A diet high in these has shown to reduce a person’s risk of developing macular degeneration. It’s easy to have a diet high in this terrific eye health nutrient. Three times a week, eat a serving of oily fish such as:

Typical meals can include a homemade nicoise salad, a salmon and salad sandwich for lunch and grilled mackerel for dinner.

Leafy greens

These are a fantastic antioxidant, as well a being a great source of Vitamins C, E, lutein & zeaxanthin. This includes:

The variety means that these couldn’t be easier to work into your everyday diet – consider a salad for lunch (throw in some tuna or salmon), or a serving of a steamed green with your dinner.

Brightly coloured fruits

These include fresh:

Berries are a delicious way to ensure that you have enough vitamin C and are a great reason to have dessert, or snack on them during the day.

Brightly coloured vegetables (especially yellow and orange)

The best way to get foods with the all-important lutein and zeaxanthin combination. Some terrific options are:

How about pumpkin soup for lunch or a salad with lots of yellow capsicum? Roast pumpkin or another vegetable would also go well with dinner.


A wide range to choose from:

Snack on them during the day, or build them into a meal – pesto uses pine nuts or throw a few chopped walnuts or pecans in a salad.

Is it easy to eat the right foods to help prevent eye disease?

It certainly is. Your diet probably already has antioxidants to prevent eye disease. You may need to add an extra serving of fish or leafy greens here and there, but it’s simple to ensure you’re having the right nutrition for eyes – and a lot more enjoyable than having to remember to take a daily handful of supplements.


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*Nutrient Supplementation for Age-related Macular Degeneration, Cataract, and Dry Eye” Ronald P. Hobbs, MD and Paul S. Bernstein, MD, PhD. J Ophthalmic Vis Res. 2014 Oct-Dec.

**A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8. Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group Arch Ophthalmol. 2001 Oct.

*** Online First by Archives of Ophthalmology.

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