Diet is a key lifestyle factor that may influence eye health. Research has shown that diets rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, obtained either from food sources or supplements, may have ocular benefits.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important constituents of a developing and growing brain. Thus, they are considered essential both in utero and in early infancy.
Several studies in both preterm and term infants have shown that a dietary supply of omega-3 fatty acids may be essential for optimal visual development. For example, this clinical trial conducted in the United States showed that the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to baby formula led to better visual function a year later. This was compared to infants who were fed milk without the addition of these fatty acids. In fact, omega-3 enriched formula-fed infants had better visual acuity than commercial formula-fed infants at both 17 and 52 weeks of age.
Omega-3 isn’t just good for your children, it is also good for you too! Research has shown the benefits of these fatty acids to protect adult eyes from macular degeneration and may also play a role in the proper drainage of fluid in the eye, which decreases the risk of high eye pressure and glaucoma.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our health, but our body is unable to produce them. The only way we can get omega-3 fatty acids is through our diet. This is why the foods we choose to consume are so important. Careful planning of your dietary intake and good nutrition will put you on the right path to healthy eyes.
Luckily, omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from several sources. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish, like sardines, herring, tuna, Spanish mackerel, and salmon. The Singapore Health Promotion Board recommends a diet that includes two or more servings of fish a week. One serving = 90g of cooked fish. Just be sure that you are employing healthy methods of cooking the fish, like grilling, baking, or steaming. This is so that it is good for the heart as well.
For those who don’t love fish, another way to ensure a sufficient intake of omega-3 in your diet is to take fish oil supplements. Those that come in capsule form generally have a non-fishy taste.
And for vegetarians, meat-free sources of omega-3 include flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, and dark green leafy vegetables. So start getting into the behaviour of paying attention to your diet to reap the benefits later in life!
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