Iron is a mineral necessary for many bodily functions. If you don’t have enough iron in your body, it can cause iron deficiency anemia.
When you lack certain nutrients, it can affect your body and eye health. Low iron can cause headaches and fatigue, but no evidence suggests it causes blurred vision.
What Is Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Iron deficiency anemia is a condition from a lack of iron in the body. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a substance that binds to oxygen and transports it throughout the body.
Without enough iron, the body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, leading to a shortage of oxygen in the body’s tissues. Causes of low iron can include:
- Not getting enough iron in your diet
- Loss of blood
- Your body can’t absorb iron. This usually occurs through the small intestine, but an intestinal disorder can impact absorption from digested food.
- Pregnancy. Many pregnant women are iron deficient because of increased blood volume and the growing fetus.
Signs & Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
If you have mild anemia or it develops over time, it can go unnoticed. Symptoms can also vary in severity, underlying causes, health, and age.
Common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sensitivity to temperature
- Cold hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty concentrating
- Heart palpitations
- Leg cramps
Physical signs can also indicate low iron, including:
- Brittle nails
- Cracks at the sides of the mouth
- Hair loss
- Inflammation of the tongue
- Pale or yellow skin
- Irregular heartbeat or breathing
Can Iron Deficiency Cause Headaches?
Having an iron deficiency can cause the brain to receive less oxygen than needed for optimal functioning, leading to headaches. Iron deficiency anemia can also cause migraines, mostly in menstruating women. If you have frequent or recurrent headaches, it can be a symptom of iron deficiency anemia.
Can Iron Deficiency Cause Blurred Vision?
There is no evidence that low iron causes blurred vision. However, low iron can cause retinal changes leading to anemic retinopathy.
Eye symptoms of low iron can include a pale coloring of the inside of the lower eyelids. In moderate or severe cases of iron deficiency anemia, the inside layer of the lower eyelid is very pale pink or yellow instead of red.
Rather than low iron, one common cause of blurry vision is dry eye. Dry eye is a condition where the eyes don’t produce enough tears or lack essential tear components to keep the eyes lubricated.
Dry eyes can be uncomfortable and affect your quality of life. But you can find lasting relief with dry eye therapy.
In the same way that your body may need nutritional supplements to thrive, so does your ocular health. Foods rich in vitamins can lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and dry eye later in life.
The eye doctors at Los Angeles EyeCare can help recommend nutrients based on your eye health, overall health, and family health history. The following antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins can protect your vision and keep you healthy:
Antioxidants delay or slow down oxidation, which causes aging or cell death. For people with cataracts, oxidation can change the fats and proteins in the eye’s lens, making them cloudy.
Foods high in antioxidants include:
- Goji berries
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in the membranes of the retina. They have anti-inflammatory properties and can help prevent diabetic retinopathy. It can also benefit those with dry eyes by helping to produce quality tears.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Chia Seeds
Foods high in zinc include:
- Legumes (beans and lentils)
- Meats & seafood
Vitamin C is needed to make the collagen that provides structure to the eye. It’s also an antioxidant and may help prevent cataracts.
The following foods are high in vitamin C:
- Green Peppers
A Recipe for Eye Health
Blueberry Spinach Salad with Grilled Fish and Citrus Vinaigrette
For the Salad:
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- 1 cup cooked and chilled quinoa (optional)
For the Grilled Fish:
- 4 fish fillets (such as salmon or tilapia)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Citrus Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the Grilled Fish:
- In a bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Brush the fish fillets with the mixture, ensuring they are evenly coated.
- Grill the fish fillets for 4-5 minutes on each side or until they are cooked through. Set aside.
- Make the Citrus Vinaigrette:
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Assemble the Salad:
- In a large salad bowl, combine fresh spinach, blueberries, strawberries, walnuts, and crumbled feta cheese (if using).
- If desired, add cooked and chilled quinoa for an extra nutritional boost.
- Place grilled fish fillets on top of the salad.
- Drizzle with Citrus Vinaigrette:
- Just before serving, drizzle the citrus vinaigrette over the salad and grilled fish.
- Garnish with additional blueberries, strawberries, and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts.
- Toss the salad gently to combine all the flavors, and serve immediately.
Nutrition to Maintain Eye Health
You can do many things to support proper eye function and prevent eye diseases. Eating the right foods can contribute to healthy eyes and help improve overall health. If you believe you are deficient in iron, speak to your eye doctor before taking supplements.
Taking the necessary nutrients and visiting your eye doctor for regular eye exams are 2 key steps in maintaining healthy, comfortable vision. Book an appointment with Los Angeles EyeCare to learn more about nutrition and eye health.