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Eating to See: 5 Foods for Eye Health

Carrots are good for the eyes. It’s a sentence that has been uttered by many a parent throughout history, or at least since World War II. During the war, German planes partook in frequent nighttime raids of the British Isle. To make things harder for the Luftwaffe, the British government enforced citywide blackouts. Eventually, the Royal Air Force repelled all attacks using a new radar technology that could detect German planes before they even reached the English Channel.
To keep the new technology under wraps, the government told the public that the reason for the Royal Air Force’s success was that the pilots ate a lot of carrots. Propaganda ads went as far as to say that carrots could help you see in the dark, giving parents one of the coolest excuses to get their kids to eat carrots.
The connection between carrots and eye health is certainly sound, but you can find a ton of other foods that are even better for maintaining your eyes and vision. Make these foods a regular part of your diet to give your eyes a much-needed boost.
1. Tomatoes
Tomatoes get their vibrant red glow from carotenoids, the pigments responsible for giving most fruits and veggies their colors. The main carotenoid in tomatoes is lycopene, which is found in ocular tissue and can prevent light-induced damage to your retina. Lycopene also has antioxidant properties that effectively fight back against age-related macular degeneration.
Tomatoes also pack a heavy dose of vitamin C, which most people turn to for colds and the flu, but vitamin C also plays an important role in your eyes. The fluid that fills the area between your iris and cornea is known as the aqueous humor and is composed of, among other things, vitamin C. It has even more vitamin C than would normally be found in your blood. The ever-important vitamin protects and nourishes your eyes.
2. Spinach
Considering all the good that spinach does, Popeye probably had amazing eye health. Spinach—and other dark, leafy greens—is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are also found in the eye’s macula, a spot in the retina that naturally blocks out harmful lights. Lutein and zeaxanthin in particular absorb and filter out blue light, an especially harmful wavelength for the retina.
Natural eye sunblock aside, lutein and zeaxanthin also allow your eyes to better detect contrasts in color and light, keeping you from constantly updating the prescription for your glasses or Air Optix contacts.
3. Eggs
Eggs are known for their protein and the consistent debate about cholesterol, but your eyes will thank you for enjoying one egg yolk a day. Eggs are another great source for lutein and zeaxanthin. However, your body can absorb the antioxidants better from eggs—due to its natural fats and oils—than from some kale or spinach.
4. Oysters
Eggs also contain some zinc, but if you really want to give your body some zinc, chow down on some oysters. Zinc exists in the macula, and deficiencies in the mineral have been linked to certain vision problems. Zinc also works in conjunction with vitamin A to create melanin, the pigment responsible for coloring your skin and your eyes. Melanin protects the iris and choroid from UV and high-frequency visible lights.
5. Salmon
Salmon and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fats. Don’t worry—these are the good fats. Omega-3s can protect your eyes from macular degeneration and prevent dry eye syndrome. These fatty acids also facilitate the drainage of intraocular fluids to keep the pressure in your eyes down and reduce the risk of developing glaucoma.
These are all tasty, easy-to-prepare foods, so even if you’re not a fan of carrots, you should have no problem keeping your eyes healthy.

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