Originally appeared in
EARTH STAR MAGAZINE April/May 2006
By Rosemary Gaddum Gordon, D.B.O., M.A.
Think colors when you choose foods for your eyes: reds, oranges, dark greens and browns. The brighter, deeper colors are the ones that will nourish them the most.
Colorful fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants, which are essential for the lens, as well as retinal, conjunctival and corneal health. When you choose what you will eat, picture what your plate will look like. If it is multicolored, then you are probably on the right track. Pick some reds, (like tomatoes, beets and red peppers,) and oranges, (like sweet potatoes, mangoes, cantaloupes, peaches and carrots,) and mix them with some dark greens, (like broccoli, kale, spinach, arugula, parsley and water cress.) These all nourish your eyes from the inside, and just the sight of them will nourish your soul from the outside.
When I think of whole grains and legumes, I think mostly of browns. These supply us with vitamins and minerals, which are essential for a healthy nervous system and circulation. Foods made from “white” flour and “white” rice may taste good, but they really don’t give us the nourishment we need. We can also get these vitamins and minerals from meats, but as with all foods, consider how it was raised and what may have been added along the way.
Oils vary in color and certain ones are essential for retinal and eyelid health. These are especially available in fish that swim in cold waters like salmon and cod. Nuts and seeds are also full of wonderful oils for the eyes. Flax seed oil is especially helpful for dry eyes and poor night vision.
Drinking plenty of pure, clear water is essential for the whole body to function well. In the eye it is specifically relevant for the production of tears and in maintaining a healthy vitreous.
There are also some foods that tend to deplete the eyes. Caffeine makes it harder for the eyes to focus at near. Sugars and alcohol effect the nervous system, making it harder to coordinate the eyes. Alcohol and caffeine are both dehydrators. If you still eat these foods remember what they do and compensate in some way. You could drink more water, take extra vitamins, or practice some eye coordination exercises. If you like caffeine, both green and black teas are also good sources of antioxidants and can substitute for coffee.
Changing our diet can be hard. Often it is easiest to add the good things first, to fill up on them. Then, as we listen to the body, it will tell us it doesn’t need the foods that are less beneficial. The eyes, as part of the body, need a varied diet. By including these colorful foods you will be nourishing your vision and caring for your eyes.
Meal preparation becomes so much fun. Start with dark greens in your salad then add as much glorious color as you can. Or, throw some red peppers in with your green beans, add herbs to your rice, and keep on innovating.