Eyes are one of the most important organs we have. We all want to prevent eye diseases and protect vision health, but there are steps that should be taken to achieve that. Apart from eating a healthy diet, there are a few nutrients that are especially important for the eyes. These nutrients help maintain eye function, protect the eyes against harmful light and reduce the development of age-related degenerative diseases. Here are some of the main nutrients that are essential for optimum vision and eye health.
1. Vitamin A: Vitamin A is essential to your eye health and vision. Our retinas need vitamin A to properly function and to produce the pigment rhodopsin. Vitamin A also helps prevent blindness caused by macular degeneration. If you don’t consume enough vitamin A, you may experience night blindness, dry eyes or more serious eye diseases, depending on how severe your deficiency is. Foods rich in vitamin A include spinach, cantaloupes, and sweet potatoes.
2. Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow carotenoid antioxidants known as macular pigments. Lutein and zeaxanthin act as natural sunglasses. They play a central role in protecting the eyes against the harmful blue light. Lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to lower your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. The researchers discovered that those with the highest intake of lutein and zeaxanthin had a 43% lower risk of macular degeneration, compared to those with the lowest intake. Eating yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables is a good way to get more of these nutrients.
3. Vitamin E: Vitamin E helps you to lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Vitamin E is a group of fat-soluble antioxidants that protect fatty acids from harmful oxidation. Due to the high concentration of the retina in fatty acidy, sufficient vitamin E intake is important for optimal eye health. Vitamin E has also been shown to protect against the damage from free radicals. Impaired vision is one of the symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency.
4. Gamma-Linolenic Acid: Gamma-linolenic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid found in small amounts in the diet. Unlike many other omega-6 fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid appears to have anti-inflammatory properties. Some evidence suggests that taking evening primrose oil may reduce the symptoms of dry eye disease. One randomized controlled study gave women with dry eyes a daily dose of evening primrose oil that provided 300 mg of gamma-linolenic acid. The study found that their symptoms improved over a six-month period.