Nutrition plays an important role in your overall eye health. While what you eat does not affect your glasses prescription (so no, you’ll never be able to eat enough carrots to get rid of your glasses or contacts), specific nutrients have been linked to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, some of which cause irreversible damage to your vision.
The first eye condition linked to nutrition is macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a progressive eye disease that causes loss of your central vision. Once damage is done from this disease it cannot be reversed. To the patient it looks like there is a black spot right in the center of their vision; peripheral vision is still intact but central vision is damaged.
Nutrients that help combat macular degeneration are lutein & zeaxanthin. These nutrients function by absorbing excess light energy that would otherwise damage the eye and contribute to macular degeneration. They are abundant in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. There are also several supplements on the market targeted at macular degeneration, but are any of them really worth taking? That depends. A major study showed evidence that a specific combination of nutrients in the form of a supplement can delay the progression of advanced macular degeneration by 25 percent. So yes, if you have macular degeneration an eye supplement is definitely beneficial to you. More research is needed to determine how beneficial this supplement is to someone who does not have macular degeneration.
Another eye condition linked to your nutrition is dry eye. Dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions we see in practice. Symptoms of dry eye are varied but can include stinging, burning, light sensitivity, redness, or blurred vision. Treatments are also multifaceted and include artificial tear eye drops, eyelid hygiene, prescription eye drops targeting inflammation, and devices that slow the drainage of tears.
Regarding nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve dry eyes. They work by improving the eye’s oil film that is produced by small glands on the edge of the eyelid. This oil film prevents your tears from evaporating too quickly. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in foods like fish and nuts. They can also be consumed in the form of a supplement.
Many irreversible eye conditions do not present any symptoms you would notice until late in the disease process. That is why it is so important to get regular eye exams even if you are not noticing any problems with your vision. The doctors at Missouri Eye Consultants can advise you on if your eyes are showing any signs of these conditions and not only what changes to your diet will help, but also other treatment options available.