The eyes are intricate and elaborate organs that require the interaction of various parts to allow clear vision. Understanding eye anatomy is crucial to comprehend how nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining eye health. Keep reading to get a fundamental overview of eye anatomy.
Cornea: This is the clear, dome-shaped tissue at the front of the eye that helps to focus light.
Tear ducts: The openings to the tear ducts are located in the inner corners of the upper and lower eyelids. Tears are produced by the lacrimal gland and help to keep the cornea lubricated and clear of debris[i].
Iris and pupil: The iris is the coloured part of the eye and controls the size of the pupil, which is the opening in the middle of the eye. The iris adjusts the size of the pupil to control the amount of light that enters the eye.
Lens and retina: The lens is located behind the pupil and helps to focus light onto the retina, which is the layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye. The retina converts light into electrical signals that are sent to the brain through the optic nerve[ii].
Optic nerve: The optic nerve is a thick bundle of nerve fibres that connects the retina to the brain. It carries visual information from the retina to the brain, where it is processed into images.
Glaucoma: is a condition characterised by increased pressure of the fluid inside the eye, which can result in optic nerve damage and vision loss. Age, race, and family history are significant risk factors for glaucoma[iii].
A cataract: is a clouding of the lens in the eye, leading to blurry or colour-tinted vision. People with cataracts may also experience halos around objects, particularly at night. This condition is most common in older adults and can be treated with surgery to replace the damaged lens with an artificial one (National Eye Institute, n.d.).
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): is a gradual deterioration of the cells in the macula, a part of the retina responsible for central vision. This condition is most prevalent in people over the age of 60 and can cause blurry vision, particularly in the centre of the visual field. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65[iv].
Vitamin A: Vitamin A plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy vision. It helps to protect the surface of the eye and is essential for the formation of the retina. Good food sources of vitamin A include liver, eggs, milk, and orange-coloured fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and apricots.
Lutein and zeaxanthin: Vitamin A comes in many forms, carotenoids are a form of pre-vitamin A. These are carotenoids that are found in high concentrations in the macula, the central part of the retina. They help to protect the eyes from damage caused by blue light and reduce the risk of AMD. Good food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens as well as eggs and orange peppers. For supplemental Vitamin A and these carotenoids Try: Lutein Plus by Viridian and Vision Support Formula (60 Capsules) by Pure Encapsulations.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are important for maintaining the health of the retina and reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. Try our omega 3 products including: O.N.E Omega (30 Capsules) by Pure Encapsulations and Pure Strength Omega 3 (120 Caps) by Wild Nutrition
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to protect the eyes from damage caused by free radicals. It is also essential for the formation of collagen, which is important for maintaining the health of the cornea and other tissues in the eye. Good food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, and bell peppers.
Zinc: Zinc is important for maintaining the health of the retina and reducing the risk of AMD. Good food sources of zinc include oysters, beef, pork, and fortified cereals. Try our vitamin C and zinc rich supplements: Vitamin C 500mg + Zinc by Viridian and Natural Vitamin C (60 caps) by Pukka.
Nutritional assessment: A comprehensive nutritional assessment can be used to evaluate a person's overall dietary intake and identify any nutrient deficiencies. This may involve a review of dietary habits, medical history, and laboratory tests.
Nutritional functional testing can provide important information about a person's nutritional status and help identify any dietary factors that may be contributing to eye problems. It is typically performed by a qualified naturopathic healthcare professional.
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Protect your eyes from UV rays: Ensure you wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection outdoors to reduce exposure to harmful UV rays.
Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for many eye diseases.
Take breaks from screens: Long periods of time spent looking at digital screens can strain eyes. Use the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Exercise regularly: Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing conditions that can lead to vision loss, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Ensure regular eye exams: Comprehensive eye exams can detect early signs of eye diseases and other vision problems.
[i] National Eye Institute. (n.d.). Facts about the cornea and corneal disease.
[ii] American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Anatomy of the eye.
[iii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
[iv] National Eye Institute. (n.d.). Facts about the cornea and corneal disease.
Gorusupudi, A., & Nelson, K. (2018). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and the Eye: From Front to Back. Advances in Nutrition, 9(3), 307-316. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmy005
Seddon, J. M., & Reynolds, R. (2019). AMD and Nutrition: A Review. Nutrients, 11(5), 992. doi: 10.3390/nu11050992
Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 Research Group. (2013). Lutein + Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Age-Related Macular Degeneration: The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 309(19), 2005–2015. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.4997
National Institutes of Health. (2021). Vitamin A. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
American Optometric Association. (2021). Nutrition and Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Retrieved from https://www.aoa.org/patients-a...
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.