What Can We Eat And Drink For Healthy Eyes?
We all know how important it is to get the right amount of vitamins and nutrients to be healthy, but do we know what we need to help maintain healthy eyes and good vision? Often we think, if our eyes are uncomfy or dry, that we should get a bottle of eye drops from the pharmacy, but how often do we think that if we have the right balance of hydration and nutrients in our systems, maybe we shouldn’t need to use eye drops so much?
Since the pandemic, many of our daily routines have changed. The majority of my patients tell me that they are spending significantly more time in front of their monitors and screens, working longer hours from home and are noticing uncomfortable eyes and reduced quality of vision. Spending more time sitting, and staring at one thing isn’t good for any part of our bodies, but what can we eat and drink for healthy eyes?
We hear this all the time, but I can't stress enough how important this is - drink more water. Hydration is the master key to everything (everything functioning really well that is), and that includes healthy eyes! Human adults need a minimum of 2.5-3 litres of water per day. If we then add on some caffeinated drinks, and some exercise, then we need more than that minimum amount of water. The really tricky part of it is, is that if we miss this minimum by even 1 day, it can take up to two weeks for our bodies to re-hydrate again!
Let’s remember that the surface of the eye is meant to be wet, but if we don’t have enough moisture in our bodies, this can’t be maintained, and our eyes become dry.
I know what you’re thinking... fishy burps after swallowing a fish oil supplement are the worst - and I agree, fishy burps are off the menu. Thankfully linseeds/flaxseed are an excellent plant-based source of omega 3, and when crushed or in oil form, can be added to anything (I usually pop a tablespoon of crushed flaxseed on whatever I'm having for breakfast). Omega 3 is important for maintaining the delicate chemistry of our tears, lubricating our eyes and stopping our tears from evaporating too quickly. This helps to eliminate the gritty discomfort of dry eyes, and will also improve the stability of our vision. We may not always be aware of it, but as soon as our tears evaporate from the surface of our eyes, our vision becomes fuzzy, and we have to blink a couple of times to re-establish our tear film to see clearly again. This is why it’s also important to take regular breaks from work, to stop your eyes drying out, as we don’t blink enough when we’re concentrating.
Got any questions so far about what we can eat and drink for healthy eyes? Book a remote consultation with me and let's have a chat!
Vitamin A helps us see better in a couple of different ways. The first is with night time vision. Vitamin A is a component of rhodopsin, which is a protein found in the retina which helps us see in low light conditions. Studies have shown that vitamin A is also effective in helping with the symptoms of dry eyes and reducing corneal inflammation. Carrots and pumpkin are excellent sources of vitamin A.
Antioxidants for the macula
The AREDS and AREDS 2 studies have shown that a higher dietary intake of certain antioxidants, minerals and fatty acids can be associated with decreasing the risk of developing AMD. Because you can’t find this combination (in the doses suggested to be most effective) in an everyday diet, a dietary supplement has been formulated to help us gain these nutritional benefits. It’s worth mentioning that we can find a good volume of antioxidants that help to maintain macular health in dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and collard greens for example, and that we should aim to have a diet rich in these vegetables.
The most important thing to remember when keeping to a healthy diet is to be consistent. If we only do these things once every now and then, we won’t establish a habit, and we also won’t notice any differences in our symptoms. Making small changes daily can help towards building new habits ensuring healthier bodies and better vision!
This article was written by Mai Monavar, Eyebou's lead optometrist. Book a remote consultation with her if you have any questions about your eyes.