Americans spend an average of 6-9 hours in front of a digital device, and more than 70% of us complain of eye fatigue and strain from doing so. When our eyes are open, they’re staring at a computer, phone or TV screen, and all that ogling is hard on our eyes.
Nutritionist Elizabeth Somer suggests that you fill up on these five essential nutrients to keep your eyes healthy at work:
- Vitamin C: Because our eyes face a lot of light and oxygen – two substances that can generate free radicals or oxidants associated with cataracts or macular degeneration - they stockpile vitamin C to levels far greater than most other tissues. Your body can’t make it (or any vitamin) so you need to turn to your diet. Oranges, watermelon chunks (double points because it’s also rich in beta carotene) or red bell pepper slices dunked in hummus are great sources of vitamin C.
- Vitamin E: This fat-soluble vitamin is a potent antioxidant that protects the fatty cell membranes in your eyes. High intake of vitamin E is associated with up to a 60% reduction in risk for cataracts. Nuts are a good source, as is wheat germ. Try peanut butter candy sandwich (equal parts peanut butter and wheat germ with a little honey to sweeten) on 100% whole wheat bread.
- Beta carotene: The body converts this carotenoid into vitamin A, a nutrient important in the retina of your eyes, and for being able to see in the dark when you drive home from work. As a bonus, beta carotene also is an antioxidant. A spinach salad and watermelon are both good sources of beta carotene.
- Lutein & Zeaxanthin: These cousins to beta carotene form the yellow pigment in an area at the back of your eyes, called the macula, help filter out the parts of UV light which can damage the macula and contribute to macular degeneration, and they’re antioxidants that protect delicate eye tissue from oxidative damage. Spinach or any dark, leafy green pack a lutein and zeaxanthin punch! Stack’em on your sandwich or wrap, but because you need at least two servings a day, consider taking a supplement to combat any deficiencies.
- Omega-3 DHA: Very promising as a protectant against vision loss and dry eye. Found naturally only in fatty fish like salmon or in algae, you need at least 220 milligrams of this fat a day. Add a salmon fillet to your spinach salad, choose foods fortified with an algal-based, sustainable DHA – Horizon milk w/ DHA, Silk soymilk w/ DHA, Mission Life Balance Tortillas, etc. – or add an omega-3 supplement to your routine.
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