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Visual Nutrition & Holistic Eye Care

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A young woman is happy in her kitchen, surrounded by healthy foods that help improve ocular health.

In the world of health and wellness, holistic practices are becoming increasingly acknowledged for their comprehensive approach to well-being. 

One such area gaining traction is holistic eye care. This method emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet and lifestyle changes combined with regular eye exams to maintain healthy vision and ocular health.  

What is Holistic Eye Care?

Holistic eye care is an approach that looks beyond treating eye conditions with medications or surgeries, being proactive rather than responsive.

It encompasses a broad spectrum of practices aimed at supporting overall eye health through natural means. This includes:

  • Balanced Diet: Consuming a balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods is the best way to consume essential vitamins and minerals that help maintain ocular health. 
  • Lifestyle Changes: Adopting habits that promote eye wellness, such as reducing screen time, drinking lots of water, using a humidifier, and ensuring adequate sleep help to keep your eyes hydrated, reduce strain, and promote overall well-being.
  • Natural Remedies: Natural supplements and home remedies can help to address minor eye issues, like using a warm compress to help improve dry eyes.
  • Routine Eye Exams: Regular visits to an optometrist can help detect and address eye issues before they become severe. Early detection and treatment are key to maintaining healthy vision.

This integrative approach not only addresses current eye problems but also focuses on preventing future issues by supporting overall well-being.

A holistic approach to eye care doesn’t mean that biomedical approaches to health aren’t recognized. Rather, these holistic approaches are combined with modern-day therapies and medicines to provide a broad spectrum of care. 

How Nutrition Can Improve Ocular Health 

Nutrition is a great base for holistic eye care. 

A balanced diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals is great for energy, skin, and eyes. While supplements can be used to fill in any large gaps in our diets, it’s easier for our bodies to absorb nutrients when they’re sourced from whole foods. 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a great way to maintain a healthy cornea. It also helps reduce symptoms of dry eyes, as vitamin A is involved in the production of mucin, a component of tears that helps spread them evenly across the eye surface.

Vitamin A can help reduce night blindness, as this vitamin helps in the production of rhodopsin, a pigment essential for low-light and night vision.

It’s also a great antioxidant, which can help protect the retina from damage, helping to prevent macular degeneration

Sources of vitamin A include carrots, kale, liver, sweet potatoes, and spinach. 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for overall nerve function and may help reduce the symptoms of dry eyes by promoting healthy nerve function in the eyes. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be associated with ocular pain. Consuming this vitamin can help reduce symptoms of burning associated with dry eyes, reduce inflammation, and support tear production.  

Vitamin B12 supports retinal health. It can help to reduce levels of an amino acid, which has been found to damage blood vessels in the retina, leading to an increased risk of developing macular degeneration. Like vitamin A, B12 has antioxidant properties that help to reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration. 

Foods like fish, meat, dairy products, and eggs are great sources of vitamin B12.

A colorful overview of a balanced diet of meats, greens, nuts, and cheese, high in vitamin content which helps promote ocular health.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps play a role in maintaining ocular health. 

Vitamin C helps protect the lens of the eye from oxidative stress which helps reduce the risk of developing cataracts.

Its antioxidant properties also make it a great source of promoting retinal health. Vitamin C has also been found to reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration.  

In addition to reducing the development of eye disease, vitamin C helps stimulate collagen production. Collagen helps promote healthy blood vessels, promotes healing, and maintains the health of the cornea. Good levels of vitamin C in the body can help prevent corneal ulcers. 

There are many ocular benefits to vitamin C. Foods rich in this vitamin include citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, kiwi, and tomatoes. 

Vitamin D

We’ve long been aware that vitamin D is important for bone health but it also helps maintain ocular health! 

Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can help reduce inflammation in the eyes related to dry eyes, protect against developing macular degeneration, and lower the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. 

In addition to dietary sources of vitamin D, exposure to sunlight helps our body produce vitamin D naturally. In the winter months, using vitamin D supplements is beneficial due to the limited sunlight. 

Fatty fish like salmon, cereals, egg yolks, and cheese are great sources of vitamin D. 

Vitamin E

Like other vitamins, vitamin E is an antioxidant. This property allows for it to help reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration. 

Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E protects the eye from oxidative stress, helping to prevent the development of cataracts. 

Studies suggest that vitamin E can reduce the risk of developing glaucoma because it helps to maintain healthy optic nerve function. 

Foods like nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, and avocados are good sources of vitamin E. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that have numerous benefits for ocular health. 

They help alleviate symptoms of dry eyes by improving the quality and quantity of tears, reducing inflammation of the tear glands, and enhancing overall tear secretion. 

Its anti-inflammatory properties help prevent the development of macular degeneration.

Omega-3s improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and prevent damage to the blood vessels in the retina. This helps to reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy.  

They have also been found to reduce the risk of developing glaucoma by lowering internal eye pressure 

Sources of omega-3s include fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, and Omega-3 fortified foods (eggs, dairy products, etc.). Omega-3s can be supplemented with fish oil. 

A Holistic Approach to Ocular Health 

Taking a holistic approach to eye care involves combining dietary and lifestyle changes with regular visits to your optometrist to provide comprehensive care. 

Dr. Mike Sebastian, one of our expert optometrists, specializes in holistic ocular health as a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant and a member of the Canadian Clinicians for Therapeutic Nutrition (CCTN). Connect with Dr. Sebastian and the rest of our team at Vision Care Centre to schedule a nutritional consultation alongside your comprehensive eye exam, or as a standalone service independent of your eye exam. 

Written by Vision Care Centre

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