It’s pretty common to forget about our eyes until something goes wrong with them. Don’t let a lack of care impair your eyesight.
Our eyes are the windows to our souls and are responsible for our vision of the world around us. They are constantly making adjustments based on the amount of light surrounding them and where we want our focus to be. I’ve always considered eyes to be a bit of a miracle and I never want to take what they do for granted.
It’s not something we often think about, but there are problems that can occur that can cause us some serious concern. Some minor eye conditions that can occur include cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens), astigmatism (the eye is unable to focus sharply, leading to blurred vision), conjunctivitis (pinkeye, inflammation of the membrane that lines the eyelid), and eye strain (dull achy pain behind eyes which can become a headache). There are also some more serious conditions such as macular degeneration and retinal detachment that can lead to somber consequences like blindness. Eyes are very sensitive to external damage so the most important thing we can do for them is protect them.
Eating plant-based foods is a great way to maintain eye health because one of the most important things we can do for our eyes is to eat plenty of antioxidants. These are little warriors help remove free radicals in our bodies, protecting our cells from damage. There are some specific antioxidants that work particularly well with eye health.
In addition to its antioxidant properties, vitamin A is needed to form rhodopsin, the visual purple, which is needed for night vision. There are two forms of vitamin A, the preformed retinol and the pro-formed beta-carotene. Since retinol is only found in animal products, people on a plant-based diet need the beta-carotene version. This is found in orange and dark green vegetables and will be converted to vitamin A in the body.
It’s particularly effective in absorbing excess light energy, preventing damage from too much sun in your eyes. You can find lutein in dark leafy green vegetables such as collard greens, kale, spinach, and Swiss chard so try to eat some every day for eye health.
It is a carotenoid and is the bright red found in tomatoes. It helps to prevent macular degeneration.
It is a powerful carotenoid with antioxidant properties to protect the eyes. It can cross the blood-retinal barrier which beta carotene and lycopene can’t, making it more effective. As a bonus it also absorbs UVB rays! It needs to be supplemented, and you can find vegan based ones made from yeast or algae.
Selenium is a mineral found in small amounts in our body that may help prevent cataracts or macular degeneration. It can be found in garlic, whole grains, sesame seeds, mushrooms, and broccoli. Sounds like a great stir fry to me!
There are also some lifestyle changes you may want to consider making to help support the health of your eyes:
2. Manage your blood pressure – high BP can damage the small blood vessels in your eyes
3. Protect your eyes from UV rays – make sure your sunglasses provide both UVA and UVB protection
4. Visit an optometrist yearly – often there are early signs of deteriorating eye health that optometrists can test for and early discovery can help save your eyes