September is Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month, and believe it or not, the foods you eat have a lot to do with the health of your eyes. Vitamin A is necessary for proper eye function, and the beta-carotene found in orange-colored fruits and vegetables are precursors of vitamin A. Foods that are rich in Vitamins C and E have actually been found to slow the progression of age-related conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration. Incorporating these fruits and vegetables into the meals you eat and getting regular eye exams will go a long way toward helping you safeguard your eyesight for years to come.
Vitamin A and Vision
When you were a kid, your mother probably told you, “Eat your carrots! They’ll help you see better in the dark.” Well, that’s because carrots are a great source of Vitamin A!
Vitamin A is broken down within your body into three active antioxidants: retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. These three substances accumulate in the pigment of your retinas where they’re utilized by specialized photoreceptor rod cells that function to provide visual acuity under low-light conditions. These substances also help with the visual perception of motion. Eye drops containing vitamin A are often used as an effective treatment for dry eyes, and vitamin A, in conjunction with vitamins C and E and the antioxidant minerals zinc and copper, has been found to halt the progression of macular degeneration.
Vitamin A’s precursor, beta-carotene, is found in leafy green vegetables such as kale, collards and spinach as well as in carrots. Once inside your body, beta-carotene is converted into retinal and retinoic acid. In parts of the world where the population does not have access to foods rich in beta-carotene or other sources of vitamin A, vitamin A deficiencies are one of the leading causes of blindness.
Vitamin E and Vision
Vitamin E is an antioxidant compound comprised of substances called tocopherols and tocotrienols. As noted above, vitamin E appears to slow the progression of macular degeneration. Several studies also suggest that vitamin E could play a similar role in the development of cataracts. Vitamin E is found in abundance in leafy green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, as well as in nuts.
Vitamin C and Vision
Vitamin C helps protect the fine capillaries in your retinas as well as the collagen in your corneas. The risk of developing vision loss from macular degeneration or from forming a cataract may be reduced by eating lots of vitamin C over time. This vitamin is found in a number of different fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, strawberries, red peppers and broccoli.
If you want more information about the types of fruits and vegetables you should be adding to your diet to keep your eyes healthy and happy, ask the friendly staff at Texarkana Eye Associates. Book your appointment with us today at 903-838-0783.