Your diet can impact your eye health. Eating the right foods, high in vitamins and nutrients, can decrease your risk of developing certain eye diseases. Regular eye exams can also benefit eye health by identifying problems early before they progress to vision loss.
Those are 2 crucial components that positively impact your eye health. While there are foods that benefit your vision, there are also foods that are bad for your eyes. We’ve compiled a list of foods that lack nutritional value and can increase your risk of vision problems.
5 Worst Foods & Drinks for Your Eyes
The same healthy diet essential for heart health is also essential to your eye health. Your heart is vascular, meaning it has blood vessels, and so do your eyes.
The eyes have tiny blood vessels called capillaries that provide oxygen and nutrients to the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). These tiny vessels can easily become blocked with plaque buildup or fatty deposits from unhealthy foods.
Generally, most of us are aware that processed foods are bad. This applies to heart health and your vision. Here is a list of foods that are bad for your eyes:
#1: Simple Carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates make up white foods, such as white pasta, bread, and rice. Because they are rapidly digested and absorbed, they cause a spike in blood sugar. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) has been associated with diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts.
A diet high in simple carbohydrates can also cause weight gain and increase your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. And while you might think they are delicious and you keep craving more, they have no real nutritional value. These foods are either processed or bleached, and all the nutrients, vitamins, and fiber are removed.
#2: High Sodium Foods
A high sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure or hypertension. Research shows a link between high sodium and the development of cataracts.
Hypertension can also cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Retinal vascular damage is called hypertensive retinopathy. Without prompt diagnosis and treatment, it can affect vision.
Foods high in sodium include:
- Hot dogs
- Deli meats
- Canned foods
#3: Saturated Fats & Trans Fats
Saturated and trans fats are unhealthy fats that raise blood cholesterol levels and can cause plaque buildup in vessels. These fats can also interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients that the eyes need to remain healthy and to protect them against eye diseases.
Foods high in saturated and trans fats include:
- French fries
- Potato chips
- Red meat
- Dairy products
#4: Condiments, Toppings, & Dressing
Condiments, toppings, and dressings are likely found on your refrigerator door. These are high in fat and include:
- Salad dressings
#5: Sweetened Drinks
Sweetened drinks such as soda, sports, and energy drinks contain a lot of sugar. High sugar increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and eye diseases.
Foods That Boost Eye Health
A healthy diet high in nutrients and vitamins and low in fat can support eye health and function. You don’t need to wait until being diagnosed with a serious eye or health problem to change your diet. You can start now with the following healthy foods beneficial to your eye and overall health:
- Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins A and C, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, peaches, bell peppers, tomatoes, and strawberries.
- Avocados, almonds, and sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E.
- Salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, collards, turnip greens, broccoli, and peas are high in lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Legumes, such as black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and lima beans, are high in zinc. So are lean meat, poultry, fortified cereals, and yogurt.
- Nuts and seeds are also high in omega-3 and vitamin E. Sources rich in these include walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
- Eggs are rich in omega-3, lutein, and vitamin E.
- Coconut, avocado, and olive oil are healthier substitutes for butter and margarine.
Healthy Diet Equals Healthy Vision
The saying ‘you are what you eat’ couldn’t be more true. Eye health is connected to heart health and overall health.
You can maintain a healthy diet by substituting foods that are bad for your eyes with ones that are beneficial to your heart and eyes. This can help prevent and decrease your risk of developing certain eye conditions.