Food & Eye Health

It’s no secret that food and health are directly related to one another. While ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is a good idiom to remember, it’s less about eating apples means you’ll be healthier, and more about the idea that eating healthier in general results in a healthier body. Eyes are no different, and there are foods and vitamins that have been proven to have a direct impact on our eyes.

Best Foods to Maintain Good Eye Health

best foods for eye health - 360 eyecare - omega-3

Omega-3

Omega-3 has long been considered an important fatty-acid for body health, if not the most important. Over the years studies have shown that omega-3 acids have an impact on everything from our cardiovascular system to our metabolic system, and even to our brain. So it should come as no surprise that Omega-3 acids affect our eyes as well, specifically our tears.

Our tears are made up of three layers, one of which is an oily layer produced by the meibomian glands along our eyelids. This oily layer is what prevents the tears from evaporating too quickly while our eyes are open between blinks. If the production of the oily layer is compromised in any way, or isn’t adequate, then the tears will evaporate too quickly, causing eye irritation and the impulse to blink excessively to produce new tears to replace the evaporated ones. It has been shown in several studies that a daily moderate intake of Omega-3 fatty acids help improve and maintain the proper function of the meibomian glands, which in turn promotes better tear production and a reduction of dry eye symptoms.

Omega-3 is naturally found in fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, etc.), flax and chia seeds, walnuts and select beans such as soybeans, edamame, and kidney beans. Omega-3 supplements can also be found in many health food stores and pharmacies.

best foods for eye health - 360 eyecare - zinc and vitamin a

Zinc & Vitamin A

Zinc is an essential mineral for the human body not just because it’s important for cell growth and maintaining a strong immune system, but also because it’s responsible for transforming the Vitamin A that gets stored in the liver into melanin. You might recognize melanin as the pigment that gives our irises their colour, but it also serves as protection from the harsh rays of the sun. The most common symptom of zinc deficiency is reported poor vision during the nighttime.

Vitamin A is also used by the retina to provide colour vision. Vitamin A is combined with a protein found within the photoreceptor cells in the retina to produce rhodopsin, which is a light-absorbing molecule that is necessary for our eyes to perceive colour. Rhodopsin also plays a role in providing low light vision. Vitamin A deficiency presents a similar symptom to Zinc deficiency, in that they both cause a gradual loss of night vision (also known as ‘night blindness’).

Natural sources of Zinc include red meats, poultry, oysters and other shellfish, cashews, almonds, and peanuts, along with lentils such chickpeas, and vegetables such as potatoes and green beans.
Vitamin A can be found in eggs, dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, carrots and red peppers, and yellow fruits such as mangos and papayas.

Have a question about what foods to incorporate into your diet? Our optometrists are more than happy to review your eye care needs and make recommendations accordingly. Please reach out to any of our three locations to book your eye exam: 360 Eyecare – Rosedale, 360 Eyecare – Beaches and 360 Eyecare – Metro.