You may have heard your mother say, “Eat your carrots; they’re good for your eyes.” Was this just a way to coerce you into eating your vegetables or is there any truth to it? As it turns out there are nutrients in many fruits and vegetables that are beneficial to your eyes. Carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E and omega-3 fatty acids are also important for eye health. These nutrients help protect your vision and prevent eye disease such as macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.
The digital age has us staring at screens for most of the day. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, television or laptop, the screen time is exposing our eyes to short-wavelength or “blue” light. This excessive screen time is related to eye strain leading to headaches and decreased quality of sleep. A study done by the University of Georgia looked at the changes in visual performance, sleep quality and physical indicators of excessive screen time. They found a positive correlation between eye health and an increased intake of the key eye health nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin.
So now that you're convinced your mom wasn’t lying about carrots being good for your eyes, here are some other places you can find these beneficial nutrients:
- Vegetables: Leafy greens such as kale, turnip greens and spinach, carrots, broccoli, peas, red bell pepper, pumpkin, yellow squash and corn
- Fruits: Kiwi, red grapes, oranges, mangoes, cherries, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Walnuts, flax and chia seeds, salmon and soybeans
Bottom Line: Consuming healthy foods benefits your entire body. Eating a colorful diet rich in fruits and vegetables will be beneficial for both your waistline and your eyes.
Written by: Laura Dutra, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
2. Eye and Vision
3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics