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24 May 2021

Food and glaucoma: ideas for your shopping list

When you’re faced with the news that you have a medical condition, whether it is an eye disease like glaucoma or something else, it’s natural to reflect on your lifestyle and see if there are any changes you can make to benefit your health. Our helpline sometimes receives calls asking about whether there are specific foods people can introduce into their diet to help with healthy vision.

What’s good for general health is also good for glaucoma patients: a balanced diet with the recommended five-a-day fruit and veg, regular exercise and not smoking. Drinking plenty of water is important to keep your body hydrated and can be especially beneficial for people who have dry eyes.

Lots of the minerals, vitamins and other chemicals in foods are thought to be beneficial for our vision. Here are some examples: 

  • Omega-3 fatty acid may help prevent dry eye. 
  • Vitamin A protects the surface of the eye, so may help protect against dry eye. 
  • Vitamin C helps form connective tissue, including in the cornea, and may reduce the risk of cataract. It is also an anti-oxidant.
  • Carotenoids, e.g. lutein, zeaxanthin, seem to protect the macula from higher-energy light, which can cause damage. Other forms of carotenoids such as beta-carotene turn into vitamin A in the body, which may be helpful for our eyes. 
  • Anti-oxidants, e.g. vitamin E, anthocyanins, protect against free radicals, which are reactive substances in the body that can cause damage to cells. They also help protect against inflammation, which can cause blockages in the arteries delivering oxygen to the retina.
  • Zinc helps your body absorb vitamin A and helps reduce the number of free radicals in your body. 

Please remember these will not improve the vision you have lost due to your glaucoma but consuming them might help you stay fit and healthy now and in the future. Also, proving the beneficial effects of certain chemicals is very difficult – research is ongoing, and we cannot say conclusively any food or chemical will prevent or protect against glaucoma or other vision loss. We have also listed a few herbs and spices which are recommended for good eye health. So, you can add them to your next shopping list!

  • Avocados Lutein and beta-carotene
  • Blueberries Anthocyanins
  • Broccoli Antioxidants, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, and vitamin A.
  • Carrots Beta-carotene, lutein and vitamin A.
  • Fish Oily fish contain omega-3. Eating oily fish at least two to three times a week is recommended – but try to buy from a sustainable source!
  • Nuts Omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain antioxidants, zinc and vitamin E
  • Peppers Vitamins A and C.
  • Spinach and Curly Kale Vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin 
  • Strawberries Vitamin C and antioxidants.
  • Sweet Potato Beta-carotene 
  • Dill Contains beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Oregano Contains vitamin E. 
  • Parsley Contains lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and vitamin C. 
  • Turmeric Contains vitamins A, C and E. It also contains antioxidants and is known for reducing cholesterol. 

As with everything in life the key is ‘moderation’. But, above all, there is no substitute for conventional treatments. Keep up with your drops and take your consultant’s advice on what treatments you need.