A recent survey conducted by DSM Nutritional Products found that 83 percent of adults in the US believe worsening eye health is inevitable with age. What many people don’t realize is that there’s a connection between healthy eyes and proper nutrition, and it goes beyond eating carrots.
According to Dr. Kimberly Reed, optometrist and Ocular Nutrition Society board member, “Incorporating certain nutrients into the diet can support a lifetime of healthy vision and help protect against serious conditions, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The latter affects more than 2 million Americans and can lead to severe visual impairment.”
Only 10 percent of adults are getting the recommended amount of two nutrients crucial to eye health: lutein and zeaxanthin. This is likely because only 41 percent of Americans are familiar with lutein and only 6 percent have ever heard of zeaxanthin. Studies have found that the typical American diet lacks the nutrients people need and many adults struggle to get the recommended amounts of many nutrients from food alone.
The DSM Nutritional Products survey also found that many Americans aren’t focused on maintaining their eyesight. In fact, if given the opportunity, nearly a third of adults would take a material luxury item over a lifetime of perfect vision, and more than 1 in 5 Americans are more concerned with maintaining their youthful appearance than healthy eyesight.
According to Reed, one essential way to maintain eye health throughout life is to focus on a diet packed with the nutrients known to support eye health, including:
>>Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Colorful fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, green beans, peas, oranges, and tangerines
>>Omega-3 (DHA/EPA): Fatty fish, including salmon and herring, fish oil, and algae
>>Vitamin E: Oils, wheat germ, almonds, and peanuts
>>Vitamin C: Citrus fruits and berries
>>Zinc: Beef, pumpkin seeds, and lentils
“It is difficult to obtain all of the nutrients that support eye health from food alone,” says Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian and author of Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. “To fill in the gaps, consider adding a supplement specifically formulated for eye health and vision to your diet.”