Nutrition and Eye Health

In 1826, French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, author of “The Physiology of Taste,” famously noted to “tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” The phrase was later distilled into “you are what you eat,” a true maxim indeed.

Proper nutrition fuels all parts of the body. Feed that engine poorly and problems will surely arise, most definitely in the eyes, the complex, astounding organ that requires a well-balanced diet to function properly. In a 2019 study published by the National Library of Medicine, authors John Lawrenson and Laura Downie note that “diet is a key lifestyle factor that can have long-term effects on ocular health.”

Our eyes need a good arsenal of antioxidants to successfully fight the bombardment of oxidation and free radicals they routinely face. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that interferes with the very nature of molecules; free radicals are the rogue molecules that provoke that reaction.

While the body can handle some amount of free radicals, if it is overwhelmed with free radicals because of lifestyle factors such as poor diet, smoking and drinking, disease and inflammation can arise, leading to serious visual issues such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. High concentrations of the unhealthy fats commonly found in nutritionally-barren fast or processed foods can be devastating to the eyes.

“Eyes are particularly susceptible to oxidative stress,” said ophthalmologist Dr. Rafael Trespalacios of Tres Vision Group in Melbourne, Merritt Island and Suntree.

Antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin have shown great promise in reducing risk for chronic eye diseases such as cataracts.

“Both lutein and zeaxanthin lower risk for developing new cataracts,” said Dr. Trespalacios.

Dark green leafy vegetables are major sources of these antioxidants, and they are also abundant in fruits such as tangerines and in veggies such as corn and peas, according to the American Optometric Association.

In addition to lutein and zeaxanthin, Vitamin C—found in everything from oranges to tomatoes—can also help reduce cataract risks and may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. The Vitamin E found in nuts and sweet potatoes can protect eyes from free radicals, the unstable molecules that hurt health tissue. Essential fatty acids abundant in cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna are equally critical for eye health, since they promote proper retinal function, reducing inflammation and encouraging necessary tear production. Zinc, a mineral found in red meats, shellfish and nuts, has been linked with the production of melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes.

Unfortunately, in today’s harried, hurried world, proper nutritional intake too often takes a back seat to not-so-great food choices. Researchers suggest that antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements offer a valuable, cost-effective alternative for safeguarding vision.

As an extra measure of protection, Dr. Trespalacios recommends eye health neutraceuticals such as EyePromise®, beneficial with age-related eye health disorders, the leading cause of vision loss in individuals over 55. Supplementing with EyePromise has been demonstrated to improve patients’ eye health, increasing visual acuity by one-and-a-half lines in an eye chart.

EyePromise® Zeaxanthin + Lutein, which offers the optimal combination of essential nutrients for healthy vision, was created with dietary ingredients in the amount necessary to build and support the eye’s natural protection, and is perfect for people looking to add an eye-healthy vitamin to their daily vitamin regimen, whether they are carnivores, vegetarians or vegans.

“Because vision plays such a critical role in our quality of life, we need to keep our eyes healthy by “feeding” them right, either through nutritional intake or supplements,” said Dr. Trespalacios.

For more information, call 321-984-3200 or visit