Carrots? Forget carrots! Fish is the new food to eat for healthy eyes! Fish, especially cold water fish like salmon and tuna, are packed with eye loving omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of our diet. Why? Our bodies can’t produce omega-3’s, but we need them for things like regulating blood pressure and heart rate. In fact, the American Heart Association currently recommends 2 servings of cold water fish weekly, and many eye doctors are starting to do the same.
Dry eye is probably the most common eye condition that omega-3’s are prescribed for. Omega-3’s have been shown to dramatically reduce dry eye symptoms and signs. Tears are kept from falling off our eyes with a special oily secretion produced in our eyelids. This oily secretion can sometimes become less like olive oil and more like butter. When that happens, the oils can get jammed up inside of our eyelids and our tears end up on their own with nothing keeping them on our eyes. The tears will either evaporate or fall out of our eyes, causing dry eyes. It’s thought that omega-3’s help stabilize those oily secretions and keep them the consistency of olive oil, therefore preventing tear evaporation and dry eye.
Some studies have shown that omega-3’s may even help prevent the occurrence or progression of macular degeneration. Macular degeneration can be a visually devastating disease, and with no cure in sight, preventative methods are all we have.
Omega-3’s aren’t just for adults either. A Harvard study compared the visual acuity of infants fed with formula with and without omega-3’s. The group of infants that were given the omega-3 formula had better visual acuity at 2-4 months than the infants who were not receiving the omega-3 formula. Studies have also shown that when mothers have a diet higher in omega-3’s, their child tends to have better visual acuity at 2-4 months due to more intake of omega-3’s through their mother’s milk.
There are many foods that are packed with healthy omega-3’s. As mentioned earlier, cold water fish, including salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are a great source for the essential fatty acid. Fresh caught fish are a better source for omega-3’s than farm caught fish. If you aren’t a fan of fish there are plenty of other options for you. Dark green leafy vegetables, walnuts, olive oil, and flaxseed have lots of omega-3’s. There’s also the option of supplements, such as fish oil pills, krill oil pills, and many more. While the supplements are a great option, studies do tend to favor the benefits of omega-3’s from food sources over supplement sources. So switch out that canola oil for olive oil, enjoy that tuna sandwich, and make it a sushi night for a doctor approved feast!