As you get older, it is even more crucial to eat a healthy diet loaded with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. But did you know that your eye health can also be optimized with including specific nutrients to your diet? Here are six nutrients that Valley Eyecare Center recommends including in your diet to reduce your risk of eye disease and keep your eyes healthy.

#1. Vitamin A

Did your mother tell you to eat your carrots because they were good for your eyes? She was right! Diets high in Vitamin A, which is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers and leafy green vegetables can help reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

#2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that your eyes require to stay healthy. Studies have shown that people who take vitamin C supplements are at a lower risk of developing cataracts. Besides supplements, you can add more of this vital nutrient to your diet by eating more fruits and vegetables, like citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and kale.

#3. Vitamin E

The retinas in your eyes contain high concentrations of fatty acids. Vitamin E is an essential antioxidant that protects fatty acids. Being severely deficient in vitamin E can lead to retinal degeneration. It can also make you more likely to develop cataracts. You can add more vitamin E in your diet with sunflower seeds, almonds, and vegetable oils, including flaxseed and sunflower.

#4. Zinc

Your eyes also contain high levels of zinc. Having a zinc deficiency can cause night blindness. In a study, zinc appeared to help slow the progression of early macular degeneration in older adults. Zinc is found naturally in such foods as peanuts, pumpkin seeds, meat and oysters.

#5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA are essential for good eye health and help maintain eye function. There is evidence that taking omega-3 supplements can help relieve dry eye symptoms and reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy. The best sources for DHA & EPA are oily fish, including salmon.

#6. Lutein & Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that are essential for eye health. They help protect your eyes from the effects of harmful blue light and they act as a natural sunblock. Studies show that these nutrients can help reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts in older adults. Both lutein and zeaxanthin are naturally found together in foods, such as egg yolks, red grapes, spinach, green peas, and pistachios.

Including these six nutrients in your daily diet can help keep your eyes healthy. But don’t forget that having your eyes examined every year is also a key step for maintaining eye health. Contact Valley Eyecare Center at (602) 955-2700 to schedule your next eye exam.