Over time, a lot of things change in regards to our health, and our eyes are not immune. If you’ve noticed that you’re starting to squint a little more these days, you’re not alone and you’re not doomed. The good news is, eating foods with the right nutrients can help you keep — and even improve — your vision over time, not to mention ward off age-related eye conditions like cataracts. One of these important nutrients is omega-3 fatty acids.
You’ve probably heard some of the buzz around healthy fats these days because of diets like keto that are said to lower markers of cardiovascular disease, help with weight loss, and boost brain health. What we bet you didn’t know is that healthy fats, specifically those omega-3 fats, are also a necessary component to healthy eyes and vision.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of essential fat that plays several roles in the maintenance of our health. Since the body doesn’t produce omega-3’s on its own, we have to get them from our diets. Even more specifically, one type of omega-3 called DHA is particularly important for eye health.
Research has shown that if you don’t get enough DHA, a structural component of the retina of the eye, from your diet, your vision could suffer. According to one study, mice that were fed a diet supplemented with DHA did not have a buildup of a toxic molecule called A2E at the back of the eye. Typically, A2E accumulates over time in the cells of the retina and leads to vision loss. Other research has concluded that getting enough omega-3 in one’s diet reduces the risk of macular degeneration (or age-related vision loss), one of the leading causes of blindness and permanent eye damage.
So where do you get DHA from, anyway? The best food sources of dietary DHA are algae (like seaweed) and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, cod, mackerel, herring, anchovies, and halibut. Eggs are often fortified with DHA, so look out for this on your labels, too. Otherwise, you can get more DHA by taking supplements like fish oil or other vegan alternatives. As always, get a doctor’s OK before taking any new supplement. For one we love, try this one from Arazo Nutrition ($21.95, Amazon).
Here’s to better, lasting vision!