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See things clearer with these helpful food tips for your eyes

Do your eyes have all the nutrients they need to help prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and other sight woes? Read on to learn about the top foods for eye health. But don’t count on popping a pill to get these nutrients — your best sources of vitamins and antioxidants are from whole foods, since it may be a food’s combination of nutrients that have a synergistic healing effect.

Kale: see the light

This leafy green is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are related to vitamin A and beta carotene, and are believed to protect eye tissues from sunlight damage and reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Other good sources of these nutrients include dark green leafy vegetables such as collard greens, turnip greens and spinach, broccoli, peas, kiwi, red grapes, yellow squash, oranges, corn, mangoes and honeydew melon. Your body needs fat to absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, so be sure to eat them with a bit of healthy fat such as a drizzle of olive oil or a few slices of avocado. And kale isn’t just a one-note food — it contains vitamin C and beta carotene, other eye-friendly nutrients.

Sweet potatoes: the color of health

These orange tubers are a good source of beta carotene, which may slow progress of macular degeneration. Your body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, a nutrient that helps prevent dry eyes and night blindness. Beta carotene and vitamin A also help reduce the risk eye infections. Sweet potatoes not your favorite? For beta carotene, try other deep orange foods, such as carrots and butternut squash, plus dark green foods including spinach and collard greens. Liver, milk and eggs are other great sources of vitamin A.

And, similar to lutein and zeaxanthin, beta carotene and vitamin A are absorbed best when eaten with a little healthy fat such as olive oil.

Strawberries: help you “C” better

Fresh, juicy strawberries are a good thing for your eyes, and contain plenty of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can help lower your risk of cataracts. Also, be sure to load up your plate with other vitamin C-rich foods including bell peppers, broccoli, citrus (such as orange and grapefruit) and cantaloupe.

Salmon: goodbye, dry eyes

Dry eyes? Eating enough omega-3 fatty acids can help alleviate the problem. Get some healthy fats every day in the form of salmon or other types of fish (two to three times per week), walnuts (which also contain eye-healthy vitamin E), flax and chia seeds. Salmon also is a good source of vitamin D, which helps protect against macular degeneration. You also can get vitamin D by enjoying sardines, mackerel, milk and orange juice fortified with vitamin D.

Green tea: antioxidant powerhouse

A cup of green tea is more than relaxing and delicious — its antioxidants may help lower risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Green tea contains healthful substances called catcehins, which are responsible for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Other foods that are that are high in catechins include red wine, chocolate, berries and apples. Black tea also boasts catechins, but in lower amounts than its green cousin.  Source:  Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN

Sunglasses: More protection for the eyes

Most people know that the sun’s rays are bad for our skin.  However, did you know that they are just as bad for our eyes?

Sunglasses are a great fashion statement accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Look for quality sunglasses that offer good protection. Sunglasses should block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.

Some of the sun’s effects on the eyes include:

• Cataracts, a clouding of the eyes’ lens that can blur vision. An estimated 20 percent of cases are caused  by extended UV exposure.

• Macular degeneration, resulting from damage to the retina that destroys central vision.  Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.

• Pteryglum, a tissue over the white part of the surface of the eye that can alter the curve of the eyeball, causing astigmatism.

Therefore, it is very important that when purchasing sunglasses, to look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation, so you can keep your vision sharp and eyes healthy. Also, if you plan to be outside in the sun for an extended amount of time, wear a wide-brim hat. It will give added protection to the back of the neck, ears, nose and eyes. Remember, to wear protective eyewear any time your eyes are exposed to UV light, even on cloudy days and during winter months. By following these tips we hope you will have excellent eye health. Source: National Eye Institute