The Best Foods for Your Eyes

A healthy diet will reduce your risk of conditions like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. But did you know the right foods can also protect your eyesight?

The macula sits at the centre of the retina at the back of your eye, and is responsible for detailed central vision. Macular disease is a leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in developed countries, with an estimated 200 million people affected worldwide, according to the US National Institute of Health. Studies show that diet can help reduce the risk of macular disease, including macular degeneration.

What nutrients do we need for good eye health, and where do we find them?

1. Lutein and zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that play a specialised role in your vision, as they are found in high concentrations in a healthy retina. Get more of these nutrients in your diet by eating dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, watercress and silverbeet. They are also found in peas, lettuce, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, corn and eggs.

2. Omega-3s

These essential fatty acids are important to eye health and often recommended to help manage macular degeneration and dry eye disease. The best sources are fish and seafood, including oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, and shellfish such as crab, mussels and oysters. Aim to eat fish or seafood (fresh, frozen or canned) two to three times a week. Although they are not as rich a source as seafood, some plant foods also contain Omega 3s, including walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and canola oil.

3. Other nutrients

Other nutrients that support your eye health are:

  • Vitamin E – protects cells in the eyes from unstable molecules called free radicals. You will find vitamin E in nuts, seeds, wheatgerm, sweet potatoes and wholegrains.
  • Vitamin C – may lower the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of macular degeneration. To get your daily dose of vitamin C, add oranges, grapefruit, kiwifruit, berries, capsicum and tomatoes to your diet.
  • Zinc – the eye contains high levels of zinc, which is important for good night vision and reducing your risk of cataracts. Get zinc in your diet from red meat, oysters and other shellfish, nuts and seeds.