The Ideal Diet for Treating and Preventing Pink Eye

green vegetables

Story at-a-glance -

  • In a study published by the British Journal of Ophthalmology, orange bell peppers were found to have the highest amount of zeaxanthin compared to 32 other fruits and vegetables
  • According to Laboratory Investigation, the anthocyanin from bilberries has the ability to fight eye inflammation

There are foods that contain several beneficial nutrients that work together to promote good eye health. Here are some of the most well-known examples:

Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens are rich in carotenoids (a type of antioxidant), specifically lutein and zeaxanthin. These two carotenoids are found in your macula, the part of your retina that helps with detailed central vision. Lutein is known for aiding in blue light absorption as well, which may help maintain your sleep cycle and pupillary reflex.1

The best choices for dark leafy greens include kale and spinach, as they’re found to have the highest amount of lutein. Other great options are Swiss chard, collard greens, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Orange Bell Peppers

In a study published by the British Journal of Ophthalmology, orange bell peppers were found to have the highest amount of zeaxanthin compared to 32 other fruits and vegetables.2 Combining orange bell peppers with dark leafy greens in a single meal can give you high amounts of both lutein and zeaxanthin.

Pasture-Raised Organic Egg Yolks

Egg yolks have low amounts of both lutein and zeaxanthin, but they do contain other compounds essential for optimal health, such as healthy fat and protein. Despite being low in lutein and zeaxanthin, the upside is that they’re highly absorbable, so you get more out of them compared to other carotenoid-rich foods. You can even take advantage of the absorbability by adding eggs to your meals.

According to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), adding eggs to a salad can help boost the absorption of carotenoids from the vegetables by as much as ninefold.3 Before you cook egg yolks, keep in mind that heat damages the lutein and zeaxanthin, lowering the antioxidant quality that your eyes can absorb. To preserve the quality, it’s best to cook the yolks as little as you can, by poaching or soft-boiling the eggs, or just eating them raw.

Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is rich in omega-3, a healthy type of fat that is very beneficial for your body. In terms of your optical health, omega-3 can help lower your risk of macular degeneration by 60 percent.

In addition, omega-3 may help prevent inflammation, which is helpful when fighting against pink eye. According to a study published in Surgical Neurology, participants who regularly took omega-3-rich fish oil reported that their chronic body pain improved dramatically, compared to another group who used NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).4

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is an antioxidant byproduct produced by the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis when its water supply runs out to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It has been reported to be more powerful than lutein and zeaxanthin combined. Astaxanthin may help with other eye-related problems aside from pink eye, such as glaucoma, cataracts, cystoid macular edema and retinal arterial occlusion.

Black Currants

Black currants are a type of berry that contain high levels of anthocyanin (a type of flavonoid), ranging around 190 to 270 milligrams for every 100 grams of berries. It’s also what gives black currants their distinct color. Anthocyanin may help with improved visual acuity, or the ability to see objects in distances.5

Bilberries

Bilberries resemble blueberries, but with a darker shade of blue, signifying their high anthocyanin content. Interestingly, the health benefits of anthocyanin extracted from bilberries are different from black currants. According to Laboratory Investigation, the anthocyanin from bilberries has the ability to fight eye inflammation.6

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