It’s pretty well known now that macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye disorders are strongly influenced by your nutrition. What you eat nourishes all the different organs and tissues of the body. Likewise, what you don’t eat could have provided many different nutrients for those same organs and tissues.
Here are five nutrients that make a big difference in your vision when you have enough of them:
Deficiency symptoms include feeling like burning of the eyes, eye fatigue, sensitivity to light, the feeling that there’s a piece of sand inside your eyelid and cataracts. That’s just for the eyes.
The rest of your body will show deficiency signs, such as itching of the vagina, oiliness on your face around your nose and on your forehead, digestive issues, cracks on the corners of your mouth, hair loss, weight loss, no endurance, and general fatigue.
Top food sources of riboflavin include liver, duck, eggnog, and dairy products.
Deficiency symptoms include skin rashes, no appetite, more infections than usual, inability to smell things like before, diarrhea, inability to taste foods like before, inflammation in the cornea, cloudiness of the cornea, impaired healing of wounds.
Night blindness or the inability to see at night is also a symptom, but it’s aggravated by a vitamin A deficiency. Zinc transports vitamin A throughout the body and converts it to the active form needed for vision. It’s one of the most important nutrients to prevent macular degeneration.
Food sources include beef, crab and the dark meat of turkey and chicken. Oysters are one of the highest sources. Nuts contain zinc but it’s bound up in phytates so it’s better to get the zinc from high quality protein sources.
You need about 15 mg zinc daily; more if you are deficient. Zinc is depleted in the body by a vegetarian diet, diabetes, the use of diuretics, alcohol, drinking carbonated drinks, taking contraceptives, and taking laxatives.
It’s possible that babies could be born with a deficiency of an enzyme that utilizes biotin in the body called biotinidase. If so and the condition goes on for years, the baby could end up with permanent vision problems.
Deficiency can lead to symptoms such as dry eyes, crack in the corners of the mouth (same symptom found in riboflavin deficiency), appetite loss, skin that is dry and scaly, depression and insomnia.
Biotin is missing in many multivitamins – and if yours is missing it, then biotin could come up as a deficiency. High food sources include eggs almonds, whole grains, milk and meat.
4. Vitamin A
Vitamin A deficiency is common in third world countries where starvation runs rampant. In the U.S., it’s not as common, although it is seen in those who have stomach bypass surgery for weight loss. The rods and cones of the eyes that are responsible for vision stop functioning when they are out of vitamin A.
Deficiency can lead to macular degeneration, increased susceptibility to infection, night blindness, and eventually daylight blindness. Foods high in vitamin A include fish liver, dark and leafy green vegetables, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. The plant sources are high in pre-vitamin A, whereas the fish liver is high in natural vitamin A.
In one case, a man who had a stomach bypass suffered with vision problems for 7 months before doctors figured out that his symptoms were a vitamin A deficiency. When they gave him a big dose of vitamin A and reversed his gastric bypass, he completely recovered.
A thiamine deficiency can cause a strange yellow hue around objects in the environment you are looking at. This condition is called xanthopsia. Symptoms also include depression, irritability, fatigue, nausea, headache and abdominal cramps as well as cataracts, memory problems, and confusion. Alcoholics are very susceptible to developing a thiamine deficiency.
Foods high in thiamine include beef, chicken, turkey, pork, organ meats, wheat germ, bran, nuts, and blackstrap molasses.
If your vision is failing, think nutrition first. It’s the most overlooked reason for vision problems.