Your eyes play a significant role in your everyday life, so it is important that you pay close attention to your eye health as you age. Our eyes can go through changes as we get older, making them more susceptible to complications.
The good news is that there are ways that you can take care of your eyes to maintain health and prevent these complications.
Senior health is extremely important to us here at Oaks Senior Living, and we want to share some of our findings on senior eye health.
According to the American Optometric Association, “Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration are the leading causes of visual impairment and acquired blindness in the U.S, affecting millions of aging Americans. Nutrition is one promising way to prevent or delay the progression of these diseases.”
Nutrition is a big part of overall senior health, including eye health. What you put into your body affects the way it functions, and without proper nourishment, your health could suffer. Certain vitamins and foods for eye health have been found to reduce the risks of eye diseases and keep your eyes healthy and functioning properly.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that are found in the eye; however, the human body does not make enough of these antioxidants naturally. This is why consuming foods and supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin is necessary.
Why are they so important?
Lutein and zeaxanthin have been linked to preventing the formation of cataracts and reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Additionally, “lutein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help protect and maintain healthy cells in the eyes” (American Optometric Association).
Where can you find them?
Leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard greens, spinach, and broccoli are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Furthermore, eggs also contain these powerful antioxidants.
Though Vitamin C is vital throughout the entirety of your body, it is especially crucial for your eye health since all the tissues in your eyes are concentrated with the antioxidant. Again, the body does not make enough Vitamin C naturally, so it is important that you consume foods that contain high levels of it.
Why is it so important?
Vitamin C has been found to decrease the risk of cataract development. The American Optometric Association states, “In one study, women taking vitamin C for ten years or more experienced a 64 percent reduction in the risk of developing nuclear cataracts.” Additionally, Vitamin C has been linked to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
Where can you find it?
Vitamin C is found predominantly in fruits, especially citrus, and vegetables including oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli. You may also take a Vitamin C supplement if you feel as though you are not consuming enough through diet alone.
Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene
There are two types of Vitamin A: retinol vitamin A and provitamin A carotenoids, depending on the source the vitamin comes from. Retinol vitamin A comes from animal-derived foods such as meat and dairy, while provitamin A carotenoids are accessed from colorful fruits and vegetables. After consumption, the body converts provitamin A carotenoids into retinol.
Why is it so Important?
Vitamin A protects the surface of the eye, otherwise known as the retina. The retina is essential for good vision. Because of this, when vitamin A is combined with other antioxidant vitamins, it has shown to decrease the risk of vision loss in age-related macular degeneration.
Gary Heiting, OD, former senior editor of AllAboutVision.com writes, “In the landmark Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) sponsored by the National Eye Institute, people with mild or moderate AMD who took a daily multivitamin that included vitamin A (as beta-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and copper had a 25 percent reduced risk of advanced AMD during a six-year period.”
Where can you find it?
Retinol vitamin A is found in foods sourced from animals. A few of these include salmon, beef liver, cheese, butter, and eggs.
Provitamin A carotenoids come from vegetables and plants. Once ingested, your body then converts the carotenoids into retinol. Vegetables that are high in provitamin A carotenoids include sweet potatoes, kale, collard greens, carrots, spinach, and romaine lettuce.
- For a list of more foods with high levels of vitamin A click here.
Foods for eye health are not limited to only providing health benefits for your eyes. In fact, the vitamins and antioxidants found in these foods provide nutrients to many other systems in your body. Oaks Senior Living, with assisted living communities located throughout Georgia, offers nutritious, healthy meals on a daily basis. Get all the nutrients you need to live your healthiest life right here!