Smoking increases free radical production throughout your body, and
puts you at risk for less-than-optimal health in many ways, including
the risk of decreased vision.
Care for your cardiovascular system.
High blood pressure can cause damage to the miniscule blood vessels on your retina, obstructing free blood flow.
Research by Dr. Richard Johnson, chief of the division of kidney
disease and hypertension at the University of Colorado, shows that
consuming 74 grams or more per day of fructose (equal to 2.5 sugary
drinks) increases your risk of having blood pressure levels of 160/100
mmHg by 77 percent! (5)
Normalize your blood sugar.
Excessive sugar in your blood can pull fluid from the lens of your eye, affecting your ability to focus.
And, it can damage the blood vessels in your retina, also obstructing blood flow.
Eat plenty of fresh dark green leafy vegetables, especially kale.
Studies have shown that a diet rich in dark leafy greens helps support eye health.
And that those with the highest consumption of carotenoid-rich
vegetables, especially ones rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, had increased
Get plenty of healthy omega-3 fat.
A study published in the August 2001 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology found that consuming omega-3 fatty acids was protective of your healthy vision.
Unfortunately, due to widespread pollution and fish farming, fish is no longer an ideal source for omega-3 fats unless you can verify its purity.
My favorite alternative is krill oil, which also contains astaxanthin.
This potent antioxidant also has specific benefits for your eyes, which I’ll discuss below. (6)
Avoid trans fats. A diet high in trans fat appears to contribute to macular degeneration by interfering with omega-3 fats in your body.
Trans fat is found in many processed foods and baked goods, including
margarine, shortening, fried foods like French fries, fried chicken and
doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers. So, to protect your eyes,
avoid trans fats like the plague.
Avoid aspartame. Vision problems is one of the many acute symptoms of aspartame poisoning.
Antioxidants—Your Greatest Allies for Healthy Eyes
The job of an antioxidant compound is to neutralize dangerous free radicals in your body, including your eyes.
A few of the antioxidants that have been shown to be of particular benefit to your eyes include:
Black currant anthocyanins
Here, I will discuss lutein and astaxanthin in particular as they are potent allies in the prevention of eye problems. (7)
Lutein Helps Protect Your Central Vision
The first two, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found in high concentrations in the macula lutea, and are believed to serve two primary roles:
To absorb excess photon energy, and
To quench free radicals before they damage the lipid membranes
The highest concentration of lutein in your eyes is in your macula – the tiny central part of your retina responsible for straight-ahead and detailed vision.
More specifically, lutein is found in the macular pigment and is known for helping to protect your central vision.
Lutein is a naturally occurring carotenoid, found in green leafy vegetables, as well as yellow and orange fruits and vegetables. (8)
Lutein Content of Foods
Astaxanthin—Powerful Protection Against Two Leading Forms of Blindness
Although zeaxanthin and lutein do provide benefits to your eyes, science is now revealing that astaxanthin is really the ULTIMATE carotenoid for eye health, and the prevention of blindness.
It’s a much more powerful antioxidant than both lutein and zeaxanthin, and has been found to have protective benefits against a number of eye-related problems, including:
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD)
Retinal arterial occlusion
Cystoid macular edema
Inflammatory eye diseases (i.e., retinitis, iritis, keratitis, and scleritis)
Astaxanthin also helps maintain appropriate eye pressure levels that are already within the normal range, and supports your eyes’ energy levels and visual acuity.
As you can see, this list includes three of the leading causes of blindness in the US: macular degeneration, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy, which makes this antioxidant all the more important.
As mentioned earlier, krill oil is a great source of both healthy omega-3 fat and astaxanthin, but there are also other astaxanthin supplements on the market that are specifically formulated to support optimal eye health.
If you are going to give astaxanthin a try, I recommend starting with 2 to 4 mg per day.
If you are on a krill oil supplement, take that into consideration; different krill products have different concentrations of astaxanthin, so check your label.
Our krill product has 0.5 mg in a daily dose. (9)
Your eyes are now subjected to much higher levels of oxidation than our ancestors experienced.
Not only are there more contaminants in today’s environment, but the depletion of our ozone layer is causing more intense sunlight than ever before, which directly exposes your eyes and skin to more free radicals.
In addition, as you age, your body loses some of its ability to produce the high levels of antioxidants it needs to counter the everyday assault on your tissues and organs by pollution, contaminants in food and water, household chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs, and high levels of stress.
Therefore, anything you can do to protect your eyes from these assaults will reduce your risk for developing macular degeneration and other diseases,
and antioxidants that cross your blood-brain-retinal barrier—such as astaxanthin—to reach the inner eye are crucial to protect you from increasing numbers of free radicals as you age.