Blindness is not always an inevitable condition that begins at birth. Eye diseases or conditions often develop when children are young and worsen over time. Unfortunately, many of these conditions – if undetected – can lead to blindness as the child grows. However, the flip side is that they can avoid many conditions and diseases by maintaining proper eye health. Caring for a person’s eyes is often as simple as caring for the rest of the body. Eating right is an important way to care for your body, which is also true for the eyes. There are plenty of vision-friendly foods that can help keep your kiddo’s peepers at peak health.
What to Look for in Vision-Friendly Foods
The key components to look for in foods that promote healthy vision are vitamins C and A, zinc, and copper. These vitamins and minerals eliminate damaging free radicals, which are often attracted to the macula in the retina. Omega-3 fatty acids are also crucial in eye health as they contain anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent some eye diseases. Lutein and zeaxanthin (usually a package deal for these two) are some carotenes that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and protect the macula by reducing free radicals.
Parents can find many of these elements in supplements, but most experts agree that getting nutrients directly from a food source is the best way to absorb them into the body’s system. The good news is that there is no shortage of vision-friendly foods to eat. Here are several examples:
Best Fish for Vision
Halibut, salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, and tuna are types of fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Although the exact amount of this nutrient needed for optimum eye health has not yet been determined, according to a Harvard health study, experts agree that eating fish twice a week is ideal for general health.
Best Nuts and Legumes for Vision
Walnuts are another excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, though not quite as good as fish. But walnuts, Brazil nuts, or cashews make a decent alternative for those with fish allergies or sensitivities. Almonds are another nut that can be consumed for the eyes’ health, as they are a good source of vitamin E. A similar result is seen in legumes such as peanuts and lentils.
Best Seeds for Vision
Every baseball player chewing on a handful of sunflower seeds might just be doing it to improve their odds of seeing good pitches at the plate. The vitamin E in those seeds and others contributes to eye health. You can even add chia and hemp to the list of helpful seeds.
Best Veggies for Vision
Now we address some of the better-known vision-friendly foods. Everyone knows that carrots can lead to sharp vision (and the healthy eyes that come with it!), but the same goes for sweet potatoes and all other orange vegetables. While these vegetables benefit eye health mainly because of the abundance of beta-carotene (which makes these vegetables orange to begin with), they are also rich in vitamins A and E.
Best Citrus Fruits for Vision
Orange is the best color to look for in vision-friendly foods. Like their vegetable counterparts, citrus fruits, which are yellow or orange, are big proponents of good eye health. Oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are hard to top in their vitamin C content (an antioxidant that helps fight disease in many body parts.) Citrus fruits are also high in vitamin E.
Best Leafy Green Veggies for Vision
Thanks to Popeye, we all know how important leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collards are. Filled with vitamins and minerals, some of which you might not be able to find anywhere else, leafy greens are pretty high on the list of vision-friendly foods. While still another source of lutein and zeaxanthin, you’ll also find vitamin C. Some other green veggies that are less leafy, such as broccoli and the Brussels sprout, also contain these nutrients.
Best Protein for Vision
Most don’t consider beef a healthy food, much less a vision-friendly food, but it does have plenty of benefits to be consumed in moderation. Zinc is one mineral in high doses in meat that is hard to find elsewhere. Eggs have received criticism in certain circles due to high cholesterol levels. However, numerous studies have shown that eggs may have more benefits than first known. While eggs are also a source of lutein and zeaxanthin that help reduce age-related sight loss, they are also full of the vitamins and minerals (A, E, and zinc) needed to keep the eyes functioning properly.
Water for Vision
Here’s an obvious fact. Since eyes are mostly water, we should consume a lot of water to keep those eyes lubricated. Although dry eyes in and of themselves aren’t inherently the cause of eye disease, it can lead to the person touching their itchy, dry eyes and introducing germs to the surface. Those germs, in turn, can bring conditions that could harm the eyes. Drinking more water helps keep a body healthy, and good overall health leads to optimally functioning body parts.
You are right if you’ve seen some of these vision-friendly foods on other health food lists. Many foods that care for the eyes are also good for your heart and other body parts. Eating right is an excellent way to ensure each body part meets its needs.
Sometimes, however, eye conditions are simply a part of a child’s genetic makeup, and no amount of packing your diet with vision-friendly foods will change that. So while it is essential to do whatever possible to prevent eye conditions and disease, taking your child to see an ophthalmologist when they are young is just as important. If you have concerns about your child’s vision before visiting the doctor, you may want to consider downloading the Kids Vision Check app to do a simple screening on your own.