Eye Problems in Elderly: Never Miss Eating These Foods

Because of the increasing percentage of the older population, the incidence of eye problems in the elderly such as dry eyes and macular degeneration is expected to rise.

According to U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans age 55 and over will almost double in the next 20 years.

Aging is not reversible. However, many health-related conditions can be prevented or at least have their negative effects on our bodies minimized. Since most people don’t like taking medications; other reasonable treatment alternatives should be considered. One of these alternatives is balanced nutrition.

The following is a review of the available data about the effects of nutrition on vision.

Do we have convincing data to support the positive effects of nutritional changes on vision problems?

According to a study by the Ocular Nutrition Society over half of the surveyed individuals (45-65 years old) didn’t consider nutrition as an important factor for vision health.

It’s a bummer.

Let’s look at the evidence.

Nutrition and vision: research data

The federal government’s National Eye Institute sponsored Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that adding vitamin C, E, beta carotene, zinc, and copper at levels above the recommended daily allowances could reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration by 25%.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C

This vitamin is an effective antioxidant that protects many essential molecules of the body. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for the making of muscles, ligaments, collagens and structural components of blood vessels.

Good sources of vitamin C in milligrams are,

Brussels sprouts½ cup48
Grapefruit½ cup44
Orange1 medium63
Papaya1 small96
Strawberries½ cup49

Vitamin E

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is also an antioxidant and protects against the oxidation of fat. The retina has a large number of fatty acids and therefore, protection against free radicals is an important process in this tissue.

The daily recommended intake for active vitamin E is 15 mg/day for both women and men older than 19 years of age. The average intake of vitamin E in men and women older than 50 years is 8.6 and 7.3 mg/day, well below the recommended levels.

Good sources of vitamin E in milligrams are,

Almonds¼ cup7
Peanuts¼ cup3
Sunflower¼ cup12
Safflower1 tbsp.5

Beta Carotene

Beta Carotene

Studies have shown that the daily beta carotene consumption in the U.S. is around 3-6 mg/day and the average intake in U.S. men and women over 50 years of age is around 2.6 mg/day.

The above-mentioned study (AREDS trial) showed a positive effect of taking beta carotene in addition to vitamins C and E, zinc, and copper in reducing the rate of macular degeneration.

It is important to be aware that taking too much beta carotene may increase the risk of developing lung cancer especially in individuals with a smoking history.

Good sources of beta carotene in milligrams are,

Cantaloupe, raw½ cup1.2
Carrots1 medium5.3
Kale½ cup3.7
Red pepper1 medium2.9
Pumpkin½ cup8.5
Spinach½ cup5.0
Sweet potatoes½ cup15.5
Winter squash½ cup3.9



This element is an essential part of many enzymes in order to maintain healthy eyes. It is found in high levels mostly in meat, Therefore, vegetarians may end up having lower blood zinc levels.

The levels of zinc in almonds, beans and peanuts are much lower than in meat. Most Americans meet the minimum requirement for daily zinc intake. It is not surprising since there are few vegetarians and elevated meat consumption.

Good sources of zinc,

Chicken (Dark meat)3 oz.1.8
Cashews1 oz.1.6
Crab3 oz.4.7
Oyster3 medium24.9
Pork3 oz.2.2
Turkey3 oz.3.8

Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids

It has been suggested that the omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are important antioxidants. They have been found to reduce inflammation and to improve the blood perfusion of the eye. DHA is an important part of the retina.

There is no recommendation regarding the minimum intake of DHA and EPA for eye health but consuming fish 2-3 times per week is clearly beneficial for eye problems in the elderly.

Good sources of EPA +DHA gram per 3 oz,


Lutein and zeaxanthin

Both of these antioxidants are found in the lens and concentrated in the central region of the retina called the macula. It has been suggested that consumption of approximately 6 g per day could help with preventing macular degeneration. The current intake of these antioxidants in adults older than 50 years is well below 2 g per day.

Good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin

Broccoli½ cup1.7
Brussels½ cup1.0
Corn½ cup1.4
Kale½ cup10.3
Spinach (cooked)½ cup6.7

Adding these elements naturally to your food can help you in several ways. As you may know, I am not a proponent of consuming processed food including supplements and prefer achieving our goals through eating more balanced and well-regarded foods. Knowing your food is important and essential. I hope this article has helped you in this regard.

Your turn…..

Let me know your thoughts. How well do you know your nutrition? Comment Below…