The lens of the eye has protective enzymes that break down the proteins that clump up and form cataracts. By consuming more antioxidant-rich foods, you protect your eyes from oxidative stress that contributes to cataracts. Antioxidants also help in maintaining the enzymatic pathways that prevent cataract formation.
In general, fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent for vision. They have high levels of important plant chemicals called phytochemicals that have been shown to help prevent or delay the progression of eye disease, including cataracts. Studies have also shown that vegetarians and vegans have a significantly lower risk of cataracts than meat eaters, predominantly in the elderly. Therefore, even if you aren’t vegan, try to include fresh fruits and veggies in your diet.
Vitamin A has been shown to prevent loss of vision caused by degenerative conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration. A lack of vitamin A causes the cornea to become very dry, which can lead to clouding of the front of the eye, corneal ulcers and vision loss. Vitamin A deficiency can also damage the retina, which also contributes to blindness. Carrots, sweet potatoes and dark leafy greens are some great choices to get more of this vision-improving nutrient.
Vitamin C intake has been linked to a lower cataract risk, especially in people who tend to be deficient in this key nutrient. Excellent vitamin C foods include peppers, citrus fruits, berries, tropical fruits, broccoli and tomatoes.
Studies have shown that vitamin E reduces cataract formation. The top vitamin E food sources include almonds, spinach, wheat germ and sweet potato.
According to the American Optometric Association, zinc deficiency has also been tied to cloudy vision and poor night vision since it helps bring vitamin A from the liver into the retina. Kefir, yogurt, chickpeas and pumpkin seeds are all rich in zinc.
These are the two carotenoids that have been most studied for cataract prevention. Lutein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help protect and maintain healthy eye cells. One study found that people with diets high in foods rich in zeaxanthin, particularly spinach, kale and broccoli, are up to 50 percent less likely to develop cataracts. Other foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include collard greens, turnip greens and corn.