Healthy vision is one of our most treasured senses. However, many of us take it for granted until it begins to fail. As with your overall physical health, vision health benefits from proper nutrition, regular exercise, and vitamin supplements.
Here are my recommendations to promote and maintain healthy eyes:
Mind Your Diet
Eat foods rich in essential carotenes (in particular lutein and lycopene), flavonoids, the amino acid glutathione and other nutrients found in natural foods. Among other things, these nutrients support flexible lenses and the health of the retinal area. Such foods include:
- Fresh fruits
- Dark red and green vegetables (especially spinach and kale)
- Berries and nuts
Fruits and vegetables also help subdue oxygen free radicals. Long-term free radical damage is now recognized as the greatest contributor there is to age-related health problems. The best fruit sources for protecting eyes from free radical damage are prunes, raisins and blueberries. For vegetables, it's kale, raw spinach and Brussels sprouts.
Steer clear of sugar. Simple sugars like D-glucose, D-galactose, and so on, have been shown to move from the fluid in the eyes into the lens, impairing healthy vision. Read food labels and make sure sucrose, dextrose, fructose, maltose, lactose and other sugars are not listed among the first four or five ingredients. Especially steer clear of corn syrup, a high-fructose sugar.
Finally, be aware that food allergies also can affect vision. Studies show, for example, that increased intraocular pressure may be triggered by food allergies.
Supplement With Eye-Friendly Vitamins and Minerals
Glutathione transports the minerals calcium, potassium and sodium in and out of the lens, protects certain proteins from oxidizing, and slows the breakdown of DNA within the lens. Low levels of glutathione lead to hardened, inflexible lens.
You can increase your glutathione level by taking either glutathione tripeptide (500 mg a day) or a precursor of glutathione, N-acetylcysteine (500–600 mg a day). To enhance glutathione's effectiveness, take a multivitamin/mineral supplement containing selenium (which is necessary for glutathione to work properly), and at least 1,000 mg of vitamin C (which helps to "recycle" glutathione).
As far as your diet goes, increase your intake of glutathione-rich cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, bok choy, cress, mustard, horseradish, turnips, rutabagas and kohlrabi.
Other vitamins and minerals important to eye health include:
- The amino acids glycine (100 mg daily), cysteine (200 mg daily), and glutamine (150 mg daily). These natural substances help support healthy protein and glutathione levels in the lens of the eye. You can purchase them separately or as a complete protein in any health food store.
- Triphala complex (phylianthus emilica, terminalia belerica, terminalia chebula): 50 mg daily
- Native black currant: 200 mg daily
- Vitamin C: 300 mg daily (helps support healthy intraocular pressure levels)
- Rutin: 20 mg daily (helps promote retinal health. The benefits of this bioflavonoid are enhanced greatly when taken with vitamin C)
- Vitamin E (natural): 400 IU twice daily
- Vitamin A: 500–1,500 IU daily
- Lutein: 12 mg daily
- Zeaxanthin: 600 mcg daily
- Selenium: 200–250 mcg daily
- Carrot Powder (root): 50 mg
- Zinc: 15–60 mg daily
- Vitamins B1 and B2 (natural): 25 mg each daily
Minimize your intake of aspirin. Aspirin reduces the blood's ability to clot. If small blood vessels hemorrhage in the retinal area, aspirin inhibits the body's ability to stop the leak and damages your vision.
Taking a vigorous walk for at least a half hour can temporarily reduce discomfort and pressure in the eyes.