Eggs are packed with nutrients that are good for your eyes, including vitamins A and E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin. The latter two are found in high concentrations in the eye’s macula, which is responsible for central and fine-detail vision.
Nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E and zinc. When combined in a supplement with other eye-friendly nutrients, they have been shown to slow down age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of sight loss in the UK.
Avocados contain vitamin E and monounsaturated fats, which protect against age-related eye problems. Monounsaturates can also lower LDL cholesterol–good news, as this can build up in the arteries, affecting the blood supply to the retina. Fat also boosts our uptake of some eye-friendly nutrients, so avocado is a great addition to a salad. In one study, when half an avocado was added to carrots, lettuce and spinach, four times more lutein and 14 times more beta-carotene were absorbed.
Packed with nutrients including vitamin C and beta-carotene, leafy greens are also rich in antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against AMD. Kale, Swiss chard, rocket and Brussels sprouts are great choices, but it’s spinach that shines. One study found women who ate a weekly serving of cooked spinach had a 29% reduced risk of AMD.
Oranges and grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, which protects against AMD when combined with other nutrients. Studies also show that vitamin C may help to stop cataracts forming and progressing. According to the American Optometric Association, at least 300mg vitamin C a day seems to help prevent them developing.
Health guidelines recommend two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily, such as salmon, sardines or mackerel. These are packed with vision-friendly omega-3 fats. A study has shown that eating two to four portions of fish a week may also reduce the risk of having dry eye syndrome, which causes irritation and redness.
It’s not just carrots that help us see in the dark–sweet potatoes and butternut squash fit the bill, too. They’re all rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. This nutrient transforms into a pigment called rhodopsin in the retina, which helps us see in dim light. ■