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Eating for Eyestrain

Eating for Eyestrain

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Whether you’re an avid gamer, a parent that manages life from a cellphone, or someone who’s logged in some extra working hours at the computer – if you are feeling the effects of eye strain, you’re not alone.  The American Optometric Association suggests that as few as two hours of screentime a day is enough to cause discomfort such as dry eye.  And for many of us, two hours accounts for just a fraction of our daily screen time. 


A recent review published in Nutrients indicates strong evidence supporting the role of nutrients like anthocyanins, omega 3's, and carotenoids (such as lutein and zeaxanthin) in promoting eye health. 


Anthocyanins phytochemicals are water soluble pigments and are found in red, purple and blue fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, red cabbage and grapes. They are packed with antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and can help protect eyes from stress and fatigue that comes from looking at a computer, phone, or TV screen for too long.


Omega 3’s are thought to play a part in dry eye disease (DED) which has symptoms what include a dry, gritty or burning sensation in the eyes. One double blind placebo-controlled study published in Ophthalmology observed that participants taking a moderate amount of omega 3 fatty acids (~1500mg of EPA and DHA) over three months experienced improvements in tear quality and other measures of dry eye disease.  Salmon, tuna and other fatty fish are good sources. In this study, krill oil in particular, helped improve symptoms of dry eye disease when compared to fish oil.  


And lastly, carotenoids which include lutein and zeaxanthin are found at high levels in parsley, spinach, kale, broccoli, lettuce and egg yolks. Green vegetables have a higher ratio of lutein and zeaxanthin when compared to yellow or orange. A ratio of 10:1 is ideal. It may improve how well you see in addition to reducing digital eye strain.  And don’t forget about carrots! They contain beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into Vitamin A that helps protect our eyes from damaging light.


Next time you feel the strain of staring at your computer screen all day, remember to nourish your eyes with eye-loving foods. Your peepers will thank you!


Published September 1, 2023

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