Family eating healthy food to improve their eyesight.

The holidays are approaching fast, and one major topic that comes up during that time is food. From parties to family dinners to treats and beyond, it’s a time to explore your palate. It’s also the chance to think about what food makes a difference in your eyesight, for better or worse.

What food is bad for your eyesight?

It’s no secret that eating food that is nutrient deficient can negatively impact your health, but high-processed foods and those with a high fat content have been considered a factor in diminishing eyesight. Dr. Nikki Saraiya, a CEENTA ophthalmologist who practices at our Matthews, Pineville, and SouthPark offices, elaborates on these damaging side effects. "Macular degeneration, an eye disease causing retina damage and vision loss, can worsen from a routinely poor diet." Type 2 diabetic patients are also at risk for developing glaucoma, cataracts, and blurred vision.

These conditions can be brought on by excessively eating food like:

  • Chocolate
  • Potato chips
  • Deep-fried items (fried chicken, French fries, etc.)
  • Sugary baked goods (cakes, cookies, etc.)
  • Diet soda
  • Condiments and dressings

Are vegetables good for your eye health?

Many foods like fresh fruits and vegetables can make a positive difference. Vegetables that are rich in vitamins A, C, and E can be useful in preventing macular degeneration and cataracts. Those with antioxidants like zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta-carotene - especially from carrots – promote proper blood flow to your eyes. Dr. Saraiya concurs, remarking, "If you’re looking for a diet that’s healthy for your eyes, here’s some good news: The same diet that helps your heart and the rest of your body will help your eyes."

Popular vegetables to add to your diet include:

  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, etc.)
  • Beans
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Avocado

Does fruit offer the same benefits?

If you’re looking to add something sweet to your eye-changing diet, fruit is a healthier alternative to sugary snacks. Many share the same beneficial nutrients found in vegetables like Vitamin A and Vitamin C, the latter of which is predominantly found in citrus fruits. Others contain antioxidants that neutralize free radicals that harm the body, including the eyes.

For better eyesight, consider eating fruit like:

  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Red berries
  • Bananas
  • Apricots

How does meat, poultry, and fish affect your eyes?

This isn’t to say that you need to follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle to improve your eyesight. You can still benefit from eating meat, poultry, and fish, with a few caveats. Processed meats like bologna, sausage, and pepperoni can be high in sodium, which can affect hydration and, by proxy, your eye health. While fish is very useful due to its high omega-3 fatty acid content, some individuals may have a reaction to the mercury content if eaten over long periods of time.

To benefit from their protein and zinc content, try these food items:

  • Lean meats (chicken, turkey, etc.)
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Beef
  • Oysters

When you’re planning to fill your plate this holiday season, think about how you can improve your eyesight with food. You can also benefit from a routine eye exam with a CEENTA eye specialist at over a dozen of our offices. Schedule your next eye appointment with Dr. Saraiya at our Matthews, Pineville, and SouthPark offices today to see what else you can do to make your eyesight ready for the dinner table.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our eye doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.


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