Top Diet and Lifestyle Tips to Protect Your Eyesight

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Tips to Protect Your EyesightWhen I was a child, my mom used to tell me, “Eat your carrots—it will improve your eyesight.” I used to think that she was making that up to force me to eat my vegetables, but it turns out she had a point.

Carrots contain vitamin A, which is a nutrient that is essential for healthy vision.

Some of us may take our eyesight for granted, but it is one of humanity’s most precious senses!

Let’s take a further look at how a proper diet and healthy lifestyle can protect our eyes.

Diet Tips to Improve Eye Health

1. Whole grains and fiber: Consume more whole grains and fiber-rich cereals. Remember, the added sugars that are commonly found in refined breads and cereal can increase your risk of obtaining age-related eye diseases in the future. Instead, consume 100% whole grain breads and cereals that contain loads of fiber—this will slow down the absorption of carbs in your digestive system and will therefore have minimal effects on your blood sugar levels.

2. Fruits and vegetables: Diets that are high in saturated fats and sugar have been proven to increase the risk of severe eye diseases; however, if you consume a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables, most specifically greens and fruits, you can aid in preventing eye diseases and other significant health problems. To protect your eyes, you should consume five to nine servings daily of fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants—this will reduce the damage that certain oxidizing agents cause to the eyes. Vitamin A is another nutrient that is essential for healthy vision. It can be found in many fruits and veggies, including oranges, carrots, and squash.

3. Vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals: Studies show that people who follow diets that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, healthy proteins, minerals, and vitamins have a decreased risk of developing certain eye conditions, such as cataracts (clouding of the eyes). Omega-3 fatty acids are the healthy fats that the body needs and are commonly found in flaxseed oil, walnuts, fish, and canola oil. They can help prevent cataracts and dry eyes.

4. Proper nutrients: When you are outside enjoying a nice summer day, keep in mind that that’s when the UV rays are at their peak and can be detrimental to the eyes. That is why it is important to consume foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients are plant pigments called carotenoids and have been known to protect the retina from oxidized changes that are caused from the sun’s UV rays. Spinach and kale contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin.

5. Lower your sodium intake: Did you know that consuming high doses of sodium can increase the risk of developing cataracts? I wouldn’t recommend consuming more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium each day.

6. Drink water (and healthy beverages): Dehydration can have a negative impact on your eyes—your eyes can become extremely dry, which can lead to cataracts in many cases. Consume eight glasses of water (eight ounces each) on a daily basis, along with healthy beverages such as skim milk (which provides calcium) or 100% vegetable juice.

Three Lifestyle Tips to Protect Your Eyes

As you age, you may notice a slight deterioration in your eyesight. However, there are a few simple lifestyle changes you can make to protect your vision and keep your eyes healthy:

1. Avoid smoking: As if you needed another reason to quit smoking—research has shown that those who smoke have a greater risk of developing cataracts at a later age.

2. Have your eyes examined: Depending on the condition of your eyes, it is recommended that you have your eyes checked once every two years. This goes for individuals of all ages. A proper eye exam can detect certain eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy—a diabetic eye disease that is one of the leading causes of blindness. For those who wear prescription eye glasses, an eye exam will ensure that you have the proper lenses to match your eyesight.

3. Watch for vision changes: If you begin to see a drastic change in your vision, it is recommended that you consult your doctor immediately. Early signs of vision deficiency could include double vision, hazy vision, and issues seeing in low-lighting conditions. In addition, you should also consult your doctor if you experience these other eye problems: eye pain, flashes of light, and/or swelling.

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Sources:
Jegtvig, S., “How To Boost Your Diet and Nutrition to Protect Aging Eyes,” AllAboutVision.com; http://www.allaboutvision.com/over60/nutrition.htm, last accessed May 21, 2015.
Schwartz, P.S., “Eight Ways to Protect Your Eyesight,” Peter S. Schwartz, MD web site; http://www.peterschwartzmd.com/eight-ways-to-protect-your-eyesight, last accessed May 21, 2015.

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