No longer can you use the excuse that “there’s nothing I can do about it” in regards to your vision. We know a lot about the factors that contribute to aging eyes, cataracts, and macular degeneration, and we even know some things about improving our vision.
Many people take it for granted that they will lose some of their vision with age. With all the knowledge we have now about eye health, we know that you don’t have to sit back and accept that your vision will fade over time.
Eye Health FAQs
Now that you’ve heard our claim that you can affect your eye health, you’re probably wondering how to do that. Are there certain foods, supplements, or lifestyle hacks that will protect or revitalize your eyes?
Let’s give you some answers by looking at some frequently asked eye questions.
1. How can you improve eye health naturally?
There are things—natural things—that you can do to both protect and enhance your vision. Diet, supplements, and lifestyle can make a big impact on your eye health.
Without taking a pill or potion, you can immediately help safeguard your vision by getting regular exercise and reducing stress. Exercise improves blood flow to your eyes, and your eyes need blood flow to function properly. The blood delivers nutrients into and takes toxins out of your eyes. Later, we’ll get into how stress affects vision.
2. Does my diet affect my eye health?
Yes, quite a bit! One of the most important dietary tips to follow is to avoid foods that spike your blood sugar. The proteins in your eyes can be damaged by sugar so it’s important to keep your blood sugar at a healthy lower level 1. This sugar-induced damage is referred to as glycation, and anything that minimizes it is great for your eyes.
Processed starch (like that seen in white bread, pasta, pizza, etc.), candy, soft drinks, and desserts are all examples of high-sugar foods that can spike your blood sugar. These foods have hardly any fiber in them to slow down the absorption of sugar.
The other most important dietary tip is to eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods. That means veggies, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains. These foods will help protect your body from oxidative stress that can damage your eyes 2,3.
If you stay away from eating too much sugar and eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, you’re following the two most important dietary rules related to your eye health!
3. How much lutein, zinc, and DHA do you need for eye health?
Lutein is an antioxidant found mostly in leafy greens, and it actually accumulates in your eyes where it protects them from oxidative damage. Researchers say that around 10mg of lutein a day (for long-term supplementation) can bring benefits to vision and be safe 4,5.
The mineral zinc plays an important role in the metabolism of eye cells as well as antioxidant protection in the eye. 50-80 milligrams of zinc per day has been shown to help protect against accelerated failing of the eyes 6,7. It may be helpful to keep zinc to this lower dose because a higher dose of 200mg per day does not give much benefit to the eyes 8.
DHA and EPA are oils found naturally in fish. The two usually go together to help nourish the cell membranes of the brain and eyes, fight inflammation, and enhance cellular repair 9. Your eyes can benefit by taking EPA and DHA together or by just taking a DHA supplement. A mere 240 mg per day has been shown to fight symptoms of dry eye 10.
4. Are carrots good for eye health?
Carrots are a great source of beta carotene, which your body can convert into vitamin A, and vitamin A is critical for good vision. But there are plenty of other foods that contain beta carotene, including leafy greens (kale and all sorts of lettuces), broccoli, peppers, cantaloupe, sweet potato, and squash.Nevertheless, if you’re not getting enough vitamin A in your diet, carrots will be one food that helps to protect your vision.
As long as you’re eating plenty of fruits and veggies, you’ll get adequate beta carotene, so you don’t have to binge on carrots. Eat the rainbow! You’ll get a more balanced variety of nutrients that way.
Besides, if you eat too many carrots (every day for months), your skin can actually turn yellow because the excess beta carotene accumulates in the skin.
5. Can alcohol or stress affect eye health?
As you know, drinking a lot of alcohol is not healthy, and the same goes for alcohol and your eyes 11. Drinking a bit (perhaps having a small glass of wine a few times a week) doesn’t seem to put us at a higher risk for age-related vision problems, but drinking heavily does increase our chances of developing cataracts 11,12.
Luckily for those who like to enjoy a drink, there is evidence that modest drinking may actually lower your chance of vision loss compared to not drinking at all 9. But don’t overdo it because too much alcohol can cause oxidative stress to your eyes and body.
If you’re chronically stressed out, you need to find ways to de-stress! Researchers say that stress is involved in “causing” vision loss 13. Psychological stress impairs good circulation, depriving your eyes of adequate blood flow 13.
Also, if you’re chronically stressed out, your body will go into a state of oxidative stress, which can damage the cells of your eyes 14. Stress can also damage your eyes by increasing glycation (sugar damage to the eyes), since stress pumps up your blood sugar levels 15.
6. What are the best vitamins for eye health?
Vitamin A, in fruits, veggies, eggs, and other foods, is critical for your eyesight. Without it, your vision runs into serious problems and you start developing night vision blindness and other troubling symptoms. Vitamin A is involved in “ life-and-death processes at the cellular level.” It determines whether you can see and whether your eye cells live 16.
Vitamin C has also been shown to be important for eye health and lowering our chances of developing vision problems like cataracts 3. It’s little surprise that the antioxidant vitamin E also plays a role in protecting our eyes. (It protects cell membranes from oxidation.) 17.
Click here for a great whole-food vitamin C supplement.
Click here for a great vitamin E supplement that includes many forms of vitamin E.
If you get little vitamin A or beta carotene in your diet, click here for a vitamin A supplement.
7. What are the best eye health supplements?
Supplements are powerful aids for eye health. Numerous ingredients have been shown to improve the health of the eye, reduce poor vision and symptoms of discomfort, and protect eyes from damage in the long term.
Here’s a list of some of the best supplements you can buy for your eyes:
- EyeArmor by Nutracraft
The great thing about EyeArmor is that it contains a wide array of eye-supporting ingredients. Many of the ingredients in this formula (bilberry, taurine, NAC, lutein, grapeseed extract, quercetin, and others) help save your eyes from the oxidative damage that steals vision. These ingredients also protect against the dangerous damage that sugar does to the eyes.
EyeArmor also improves circulation to the eyes and enhances the health of blood vessels that feed into the eyes.
Carnosine is a mixture of two amino acids. Importantly, it helps prevent the proteins in your eyes from getting damaged and can prevent the changes that lead to cataracts 18. Sometimes, carnosine eye drops are used to protect and heal damage to the eyes. But oral carnosine supplements can also protect the eyes because carnosine prevents sugars and oxidative stress from mutilating your eyes 18!
We discussed lutein above, but the important thing to note here is that the more lutein you have in your eyes, the lower your chance of developing degenerative eye problems 19,20. If you take lutein supplements, it goes straight to your eyes (the antioxidant accumulates in your eyes) and protects the eyes from harsh light and oxidative damage.
Researchers think that saffron acts similarly to other antioxidants in protecting the eye from damage 21. And studies have certainly shown that symptoms and vision can be improved by saffron supplementation (even in people whose eyesight is failing to a degree) 21,22.
This is an important antioxidant that our bodies create, but sometimes this supplement helps because all the pollution and stress that comes with our modern lives can drain our bodies of antioxidants.
Alpha lipoic acid helps your body process sugar so that too much doesn’t build up in your blood and damage your eyes 23. Alpha lipoic acid has actually been shown to reduce damage in people’s eyes, and researchers suggest that it may “help prevent vision loss” 24.
6. Eye Protector by The Synergy Company
If you want to focus purely on antioxidant protection of the eyes, this supplement is a comprehensive mixture of antioxidants from plants. It contains tons of antioxidants (including lutein and whole-herb saffron) harvested from organically grown plants.
Put It Into Action
So get to it! Put these tips into action and buy an awesome supplement to improve and save your vision.