Our eyes are one of the important sense organs. Healthy eyes indicate a healthy vision.
It has been observed that the prevalence of eye-related diseases is increasing. Some of the age-related eye diseases which are commonly observed these days are cataracts, dry eyes, macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Studies indicate that some specific nutrients should form a part of the regular diet to promote eye, vision health and reduce the risk of eye diseases.
1. Vitamin A - When it comes to keeping our vision healthy, vitamin A stands top on the list. This is because deficiency of vitamin A is associated with numerous eye disorders including blindness. If the levels of vitamin A fall too low then it might lead to permanent eye damage. Therefore, the diet should be rich in vitamin A containing foods like papaya, orange, mango, sweet potato, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables, eggs, codfish, kale, carrot and milk products. This is because plant-based vitamin A-rich foods contain carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin in abundance which has been shown to minimise cataract and macular degeneration risk.
2. Omega 3 Fats - Omega 3 fatty acids are other critical nutrients required to keep our vision strong. This is because our brain and eyes contain high levels of omega 3 fats in the form of DHA. DHA is present in abundance in our retina and responsible for influencing the photoreceptive process. Therefore, a lack of DHA can damage our retina and lead to loss of vision. Due to this reason, pregnant women are also advised to consume an omega-3 fat-rich diet. Some of the good sources are fatty fish like salmon, sardine, tuna, cod, fish oil supplements, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and chlorella.
3. Gamma-Linoleic Acid (GLA) - GLA is an unsaturated omega 6 fatty acid that is known for its anti-inflammatory effect on the body. It is present in borage seed, black grape seed and evening primrose oil. Studies have shown that GLA is effective in reducing corneal inflammation and preventing a condition like dry eyes.
4. Vitamin C - Vitamin C powerful antioxidant action makes it good for our eye health. Vitamin C is present in a high amount in the liquid present in the outermost part of the eye called aqueous humour. Therefore, a lack of vitamin C might result in the early development of cataract and low antioxidant levels. Due to this reason, people suffering from cataracts are also advised to consume vitamin C supplements, else increase the dietary intake of foods like lemon, orange, kiwi, amla, guava and broccoli.
5. Vitamin E - Vitamin E also is an excellent antioxidant needed to prevent blindness. Studies indicate that the combination of vitamin E, C and A acts as a boon in minimising the likelihood of macular degeneration. Vitamin E can be found in nuts and seeds like almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, olives and olive oil.
6. Zinc - Zinc mineral is present in copious amounts in the retina and choroid. It plays a significant role in the production of visual pigments in the body hence critical to prevent blindness and maintain visual acuity. Zinc can be obtained from dietary sources like peanuts, pumpkin seeds, seafood and turkey.
To conclude, we can say that a well-balanced diet, active lifestyle and inclusion of the above-listed nutrient-dense foods is the key to keep our eye and vision healthy. However, other nutrients must not be overlooked since they are essential for us too.
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