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Eye-Healthy Foods: Research, Properties, Examples, & More!

Preserving good eyesight is highly influenced by our food choices. Healthy vision relies on adequate blood flow, much in the same manner as blood travels to the heart. Tiny blood vessels deliver oxygen-rich blood, which supply the eyes with oxygen and nutrients. Nutritional components within certain foods aid in healthy blood flow, tissue repair & healing, and protection against free radicals (unstable and harmful molecules). New research reveals the correlation in certain nutrients to the contribution of healthy vision, and to the prevention of Age-Related Eye Disease (ARED). 

A resent study conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI) on Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), shows beneficial results for the participants at risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), taking lutein and zeaxanthin.

Emily Chew, M.D. and director of the NEI comments further stating:

When we looked at just those participants in the study who took an AREDS formulation with lutein and zeaxanthin but no beta-carotene, their risk of developing advanced AMD over the five years of the study was reduced by about 18 percent, compared with participants who took an AREDS formulation with beta-carotene but no lutein or zeaxanthin.

Let’s delve further into some nutrient-packed foods that contribute to eye-health.

1. Nutritional properties found in Lutein & Zeaxanthin: Lutein and zeaxanthin are known as carotenoids, which are free radical fighting agents. The body doesn’t naturally synthesize lutein and zeaxanthin, thus it’s important to attain these nutrients through the diet.

             As stated by the American Optometric Association (AOA):

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and act as antioxidants in the eye, helping protect and maintain healthy cells. Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye: lutein and zeaxanthin. 

There is no daily value requirement for lutein and zeaxanthin, yet as mentioned by the AOA, studies show beneficial results with a daily intake of 10mg/day.

Food choices include: Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, green beans, kale, and turnip. Other food choices include eggs, oranges, and corn.

2. Nutritional properties found in Omega-3 fatty acids: Numerous studies have shown the beneficial properties of Omega-3 such adding in lowering cholesterol and promoting cognitive development during infancy. New studies are also linking Omega-3 to maintaing healthy vision.

            WebMD comments further on the benefits of Omega-3, and research findings stating:

In a study of 2,520 people, researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported that people who consumed fish high in omega-3s fatty acids often were significantly less likely to have advanced age-related macular degeneration. Omega-3s may also protect against cataracts, according to findings by researchers at the Clinical University of Navarra in Spain.

Food choices include: Salmon, sardines, and tuna are natural sources of Omega-3. Flaxseeds, peanut butter, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are some non-animal sources. Also, orange juice, margarine, cereals, and other foods enriched with Omega-3 are readily available in most supermarkets. 

3. Nutritional properties found in Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol): Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, storing any excess amounts in the body. To prevent toxicity it's important to consult with your physician for proper dosing. 

Food choices include: Almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and wheat germ oil. The Office of Dietary Supplement (ODS) provides dietary guidelines and charts for recommended intake of Vitamin E, and daily value percentage rates found in foods containing Vitamin E.

4. Nutritional properties found in Vitamin C: Vitamin C is known as a water-soluble vitamin. The body absorbs what’s required and any excess of Vitamin C is released through the urine. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, and is often taken in tandem with iron supplementation for individuals with anemia. Vitamin C has many beneficial properties including wound healing, protection against free radicals, and immune health. 

Food choices include: Kiwi, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, and grapefruit are great food choices with high levels of Vitamin C.

5. Nutritional properties found in Zinc: Zinc is an essential mineral that is obtained through dietary intake. Zinc plays a vital role in skin care, wound healing, immunity, eye-health, and blood clotting.

As stated in WebMd:

Some people use zinc for an eye disease called macular degeneration, for night blindness, and for cataracts. It is also used for asthma; diabetes; high blood pressure; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); and skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne.

Food choices include: Oysters, meats, poultry, and seafood. Nuts, beans, legumes, and fortified cereals are some non-animal sources of Zinc.

* All information should shared in this article should be discussed with your healthcare provider prior to incorporating any suggestions. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide advice or direct client decisions. 

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Yeneilyn is a Registered Nurse in the state of Florida since 2006. Her nursing practice began in the field of Cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Hospital and expanded to care for clients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She was provided the opportunity as LPN Instructor, which changed the course of her nursing career. She states, “Teaching nursing students expanded my view on positive influences nurses contribute beyond beside care. Nurses are central leaders in health education, client advocacy, and disease prevention.” Currently, Yeneilyn writes health articles and prepares Continuing Education (C.E.) courses for healthcare professionals. She continues her studies in the field of Nursing Education and evidenced-based nursing practice. In her free time she enjoys sharing time with family and friends.

For questions or topics of interest contact Nurse Yenny at:    




  • Nancy O. Monday, 03 February 2014


    My husband and I started taking a zinc supplement after reading this post and found it gave us tremendous relief from our allergies. My husband had a bad, productive cough for several months that no allergy medications would help. It went away after one day on the zinc supplement. We have no proof that the zinc was responsible for the change but it was the only thing he had done differently.

  • Nurse Yenny Monday, 03 February 2014


    Hi Nancy,
    It's empowering to see how proactive approaches towards one's health can result in great benefits from decisions we make. I'm so glad to hear that your husband's health has improved. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!

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