Eye health is becoming harder to maintain with our screen-centered lifestyles. An April 2023 survey shows that Canadians are spending six to seven hours per day on recreational screen time, whilst The World Health Organization predicts that 50% of people will have myopia by 2050.
While a healthy diet is a good defense against vision issues, more than 30% of Canadians say they eat less healthy food due to rising costs. However, there are easy and affordable ways to ensure sustained vision health for your family.
Here are a few things you can try out:
Focusing on key nutrients
People generally know which foods are good for the heart or the skin, but when it comes to the eyes, the only food that comes to mind is carrots. While carrots are a great source of eye health-boosting beta-carotene, they aren’t the only way to look out for your vision. What everybody should know about foods for eye health is that there are several nutrients you need to keep your vision sharp: Vitamins A, C, and E to start with, along with lutein, zinc, and Omega-3 fats. Each nutrient carries its benefits, from helping vision in dim light to protecting the fatty acids in your retina from oxidative damage to preventing or delaying vision impairment. The lack of some vitamins can increase the risks of eye problems, such as Vitamin E deficiencies, increasing chances of retinal degeneration and blindness. Luckily, these nutrients are already present in certain foods, so instead of making your family take supplements, incorporate the following foods into their diet.
Creating dishes for enhanced eye health
You can create various dishes with Vitamin A-rich food sources, which help maintain a clear cornea. Dairy products like low-fat milk, eggs, and cheese are already used in homemade pastries. Vegetables like kale, spinach, carrots, and sweet potatoes, which carry Vitamin A and lutein, can be added to soups and salads. For the family’s fill of Omega-3 fatty acids that aid visual development and relieve eye dryness, oily fish like salmon and tuna can be grilled or steamed. Creating healthy smoothies featuring Vitamin C sources that minimize cataract risk is easy by using citrus fruits, peaches, and strawberries. Vitamin E-rich foods, which neutralize free radicals in your eye cells, are found in nuts and sunflower seeds for energizing midday snacks. Finally, zinc, which helps produce melanin to block the effects of UV rays on the eyes, can be found in chickpeas, red meat, and whole grains – which you can put together to create a burrito.
In summary, you don’t need to work too hard to include these in the family meal rotation; they’re likely already there. It’s a matter of increasing your consumption where necessary – or using them as alternatives to less-healthier options.
Foods to minimize or avoid
Symptoms of poor health or injury can manifest in the eyes in the form of blurred vision or differently-sized pupils. In the same vein, poor health can wreak havoc on the eyes. It’s best to eat processed meat such as bacon and hot dogs in moderation, as these contain high amounts of sodium, which studies suggest have links to cataract formation. The saturated fat in processed foods can also cause plaque buildup in your macular vessels. Regulate soda, alcohol, and refined carbs, which can all raise blood glucose and, over time, could result in diabetes. Having type 1 or type 2 diabetes puts you at risk for retinopathy, as high glucose levels can weaken the vessels that go back and forth across your retina. One study found that retinopathy risk was higher among those who drank more than four cans of soda weekly. While it may not be possible to eliminate these foods from your diet completely, minimal consumption is the key to maintaining optimal eye health.
A balanced diet is just one aspect of maintaining healthy eyes. When combined with adequate hydration and better sleep habits, you can ensure not just better eye health but also improved overall health.