Consuming a variety of foods that are high in eye-healthy nutrients such as kale, orange peppers and cold-water fish is essential to the functioning of your eyes.

Scientists have found that the nutrients in these eye foods can also help prevent the progression of ocular diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and even help manage the symptoms of dry eye syndrome and eyelid disease.

"Which vitamins do your eyes require, and why is it necessary to include these nutrients and foods into your diet on a daily basis?"

The eye is one of the most highly metabolic organs in the body, and specific carotenoids, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids are found in high concentrations in the eye and play an important role in vision. Which vitamins do your eyes require, and why is it necessary to include these nutrients and foods into your diet on a daily basis?

Lutein and zeaxanthin: macular pigments

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, or pigments that have a particular importance in the eye. They are found in the lens and macula where they act as antioxidants and can protect the retina from chronic, sight-threatening diseases such as AMD. They also filter blue light, which can cause glare and have damaging effects on the retina. Our bodies cannot make lutein, so we must obtain it from our diet. Lutein is found in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, brussels sprouts, peas and even egg yolks. Zeaxanthin, an isomer (or chemical cousin) to lutein, is found in orange peppers and goji berries.

Omega-3 fatty acids

DHA and EPA are the two most important omega-3 fatty acids for eye health. The most effective way to get these healthy fats into your diet is to eat cold-water fish. Wild salmon, sardines, mackerel and rainbow trout are all recommended fish choices as they are high in DHA and EPA and low in contaminants.

DHA is abundant in the cell membranes of the eyes’ rods and cones and is an important part of creating the vision signal. It also plays a role in infant brain and eye development. EPA is anti-inflammatory and helps in the management of dry eye syndrome and eyelid disorders.

"If you have AMD, are at risk for this disease or have a low intake of the above mentioned eye nutrients, you may benefit from taking an ocular supplement."

Antioxidants

Vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc are antioxidants that contribute to optimal ocular functioning and can decrease the risk of progression of AMD in certain people. Vitamin C, in particular, cannot be made or stored by our bodies, so it is important to consume foods high in vitamin C several times per day. Peppers, broccoli and kiwi are some great food sources of vitamin C and other antioxidants.

Ocular supplements

Some people need to supplement their diet with an ocular vitamin. If you have AMD, are at risk for this disease or have a low intake of the above mentioned eye nutrients, you may benefit from taking an ocular supplement.

The bottom line: follow these four simple tips and ask your Doctor of Optometry if an eye vitamin is recommended for you. This will help you take control of your future eye health.