Diet, Lifestyle And Your Aging Eyes

Diet, Lifestyle And Your Aging Eyes

While aging will impact our vision necessitating the use of reading glasses for many of us,  eye care professionals recommend taking good care of your eyes by eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients especially from green leafy vegetables.   
Here’s some tips from Vital founder, Optometrist, Michael Holmes BSc MCOptom.

Antioxidants help remove free radicals from the eyes, which can slow down the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage. Important antioxidants for your eye include: 
  • Vitamin C: found in citrus fruits, kiwifruit, capsicums, strawberries, and broccoli. 
  • Vitamin E: obtained from almonds, olive oil, sunflower seeds, and avocado.
  • Selenium: a mineral found in the highest concentration in Brazil nuts - in fact, you can obtain your daily intake of selenium from a single brazil nut.
  • Zeaxanthin & Lutein: these are carotenoids that are specific to eye health and function. They can be found in dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens).
Omega 3 fatty acids play an important anti-inflammatory role in the body and can have a positive effect on the blood flow to the eyes. They can therefore help to slow the development of Macular Degeneration(4), Dry Eyes(5, 6), and Glaucoma(3). Omega 3's can be found in:
  • Cold-Water Oily Fish: salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and herring.
  • Nuts & Legumes: walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, lentils.
  • Seeds: chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds. 
Omega 3 supplements may provide benefits, however, there is inconclusive evidence as to whether they provide as much benefit as obtaining Omega 3's directly from food sources(7). 

Zinc plays an important role in the function of enzymes and the production of visual pigments and antioxidants in your eyes. It is mainly found in: 
  • Oysters
  • Red Meat
  • Dairy Products
  • Poultry
It can also be obtained from whole grains, legumes, and some cereals, however, these contain phytates that bind to zinc and inhibit its absorption(8) so zinc from these sources is not as beneficial. 
Note that taking zinc can occasionally cause a copper deficiency, so it is a good idea to incorporate copper supplementation into your diet if you are eating high levels of zinc or taking zinc supplements. 

Vitamin A plays a crucial role in the health of your cornea (the front clear surface of your eye) and is an important molecule in the function of the cells in the retina. Vitamin A can be found in:
  • Animal Livers (this is the most dense source of Vitamin A)
  • Sweet Potato
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
To slow the progression of Macular Degeneration, the recommended daily intake of each of these nutrients according to the American Association of Ophthalmology(2) and the AREDS2 study is: 
  • 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
  • 400 international units of vitamin E
  • 10 mg lutein
  • 2 mg zeaxanthin
  • 80 mg of zinc oxide
  • 2 mg of copper oxide

As well as eating a healthy diet, lifestyle also has an effect on your eye health. Here are a few lifestyle habits that improve the overall health of your eyes: 

  • MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT: as with the health of all parts of your body, keeping a healthy weight can ensure overall good health as it can prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol - all of which also have a negative effect on your eye health if they occur. 

  • DON'T SMOKE: numerous studies have shown a direct link between smoking and the development of Macular Degeneration (AMD); with current smokers being up to four times more likely to develop AMD, and smokers have been shown to develop AMD up to 10 years earlier than non-smokers(9). 

  • WEAR UV400 SUNGLASSES: UV400 sunglasses protect your eyes from over 99% of the harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun(10). For added protection, sunglasses that wrap around your head (so no UV enters from the sides or top of the glasses) are the best design. 

  • REGULAR BREAKS FROM WORK: taking regular breaks from close up work is important to allow your eyes to relax and refocus. The 20-20-20 Rule is a good guide; every 20 minutes look 20 feet away (about 6 metres) for 20 seconds.

  • MAKEUP: it is important to completely remove all makeup at the end of every day as this allows the eyes to stay clean and have a break from foreign material around them overnight. The act of removing makeup can also be beneficial in cleaning the skin around the eyes which can keep bacteria in this area within healthy amounts. It is also important to limit bacterial contamination of your makeup, which means not sharing eye makeup between people and also not using them past the expiry date. 


  1. SAVE YOUR VISION: Healthy lifestyle choices that help avoid eye diseases - Lighthouse Guild. (2021). Retrieved 25 August 2021, from Reference here

  2. Diet and Nutrition. (2021). Retrieved 25 August 2021, from Reference here

  3. Huang, W. B., Fan, Q., & Zhang, X. L. (2011). Cod liver oil: a potential protective supplement for human glaucoma. International journal of ophthalmology, 4(6), 648–651. Reference here

  4. Eunyoung Cho, Shirley Hung, Walter C Willett, Donna Spiegelman, Eric B Rimm, Johanna M Seddon, Graham A Colditz, Susan E Hankinson, Prospective study of dietary fat and the risk of age-related macular degeneration, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 73, Issue 2, February 2001, Pages 209–218, Reference here

  5. Titiyal, J. S., Falera, R. C., Kaur, M., Sharma, V., & Sharma, N. (2018). Prevalence and risk factors of dry eye disease in North India: Ocular surface disease index-based cross-sectional hospital study. Indian journal of ophthalmology, 66(2), 207–211. Reference here

  6. Epitropoulos, A. T., Donnenfeld, E. D., Shah, Z. A., Holland, E. J., Gross, M., Faulkner, W. J., Matossian, C., Lane, S. S., Toyos, M., Bucci, F. A., Jr, & Perry, H. D. (2016). Effect of Oral Re-esterified Omega-3 Nutritional Supplementation on Dry Eyes.Cornea, 35(9), 1185–1191. Reference here

  7. Balk EM, Adam GP, Langberg V, Halladay C, Chung M, Lin L, Robertson S, Yip A, Steele D, Smith BT, Lau J, Lichtenstein AH, Trikalinos TA. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: An Updated Systematic Review. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 223. (Prepared by the Brown Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2012-00012-I.) AHRQ Publication No. 16-E002-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; August DOI: AHRQEPCERTA223.

  8. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Reference here. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.

  9. Smoking and sight loss. (2021). Retrieved 18 August 2021, from Reference here

  10. How can the sun damage your eyes?. (2020). Retrieved 18 August 2021, from Reference here

  11. Yasinski, E. (2020). Which Sense Do Humans Rely on the Most?. Retrieved 26 August 2021, from Reference here

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