Eating a nutritious diet is essential for your health. But did you know it is also essential for optimizing your eye health? Here are eight nutrients that you should be including in your daily diet to help optimize your eye health and reduce your risk of age-related degenerative diseases like macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.

#1 Vitamin A

Did your mom always tell you to eat your carrots because they are good for your eyes? Carrots contain vitamin A, which is essential for helping keep your eyes’ photoreceptors healthy. It can also be found in spinach, egg yolks and kale. Vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness throughout the world.

#2 Omega-3 Fatty Acids

EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for good eye health. The best source for these nutrients is oily fish. However, if you would rather forego fish, there are supplements available to get this nutrient.

#3 & #4 Lutein & Zeaxanthin

We list lutein and zeaxanthin together because they are typically found together in the same foods. These nutrients can protect your eyes from light damage and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. You can find both nutrients in red grapes, pistachios, spinach and egg yolks.

#5 Vitamin C

Your eyes depend on vitamin C more than any other part of your body. Studies have shown that taking vitamin C supplements could help reduce your risk of developing cataracts. Foods that contain high levels of vitamin C include strawberries, citrus fruits, bell peppers, and broccoli.

#6 Vitamin E

A deficiency in vitamin E can be extremely detrimental to your eye health. You can help reduce your risk of retinal degeneration and blindness by eating foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, and vegetable oils, including flaxseed oil.

#7 Zinc

Our eyes normally contain high levels of zinc. However, if you are deficient in this essential mineral and antioxidant, you could develop night blindness or macular degeneration. Eating foods naturally high in zinc like peanuts, pumpkin seeds, oysters or meat can help maintain your eye health.

#8 Gamma-Linolenic Acid

While you may have never heard of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), it is an essential omega-6 fatty acid that is essential for keeping your eyes healthy. Unlike other omega-6 foods, GLA is found in small amounts in various foods and has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce dry eye symptoms. This nutrient can be found in starflower and evening primrose oils.

Outside of eating healthy, the best way to protect your eye health as you get older is to not skip your yearly eye exams. Schedule your next eye exam by calling Valley Eyecare Center at (602) 955-2700.