By Cherice Bronte-Tinkew R.D.
“Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law” (Ps 119:18).
Our eyes are organs which allow us to see the world. The eye is made up of different parts which include cornea, iris, pupil, lens, retina, macula, and optic nerve just to name a few.
Many factors such as our diet, smoking, exposure to ultraviolet rays and comorbidities like diabetes mellitus and hypertension can affect the health of our eyes.
Diabetes mellitus, which is prevalent in Trinidad and Tobago, if uncontrolled, can lead to diabetic retinopathy and higher risk of cataracts and glaucoma. Cataracts causes cloudy lens of the eyes and glaucoma is added pressure in your eye. This extra pressure can damage parts such as the retina and the optic nerve, which is crucial for sight. Studies have also shown age-related macular degeneration can be increased by poor nutrition.
Good nutrition involves a variety of foods. The variety provides different nutrients. There are key nutrients which aids in good eye heath. Take in consideration these nutrients below.
Beta carotene is an organic orange pigment found in fruits and vegetables. It is converted by the body to get Vitamin A. Vitamin A produces the main pigments needed for the eyes and plays an important role of protecting the eyes.
You may have heard of it preventing night blindness at school. Good food sources include sweet potato, carrots, sweet peppers. Vitamin A is also found in milk, eggs, and fish.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow pigments which are related to beta carotene and Vitamin A. They form parts of the eye and aid in sight and a ‘natural sun block’ for the eyes. They reduce the chances of age-related eye diseases. Good food sources include dark green leafy vegetables such as callaloo bush, kale, spinach, broccoli and peas, corn, and pawpaw.
It helps to absorb foods rich in beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, with fats such as olive oil or slices of avocado.
This vitamin is not only good for your immune system, but aids in making collagen for the overall structure of your eye. Good food sources are guava, West Indian cherries, sweet peppers, pawpaw, grapefruit, broccoli, tomatoes, and oranges.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for proper visual development from a young age. It helps to reduce dry eyes and inflammation. Good food sources include fatty fish such as tuna, sardine, herring, salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybean oil.
Zinc acts as a transport of Vitamin A from the liver to the retina of the eye to produce protective layers of the eye. Good food sources include oysters, beef, nuts, pumpkin seeds, even dark chocolate!
Nevertheless, a wide variety of foods will aid in good eyesight and protection.
Davis, M., MPH, RDN (2020) Eat your vitamins, your guide to using natural foods to get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs.
Klemm S., RDN, CD, LDN (2021). Foods for eye health https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/5-top-foods-for-eye-health
Diet and Nutrition. Adding powerful antioxidants to your diet can improve your eye health. https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y
Cherice Bronte-Tinkew is a registered dietician. She is a member of the Board of Nutritionists and Dietitians, and Vice President of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians.
Contact on FB/Instagram: JustCherNutrition ; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org