Cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and albacore tuna are the best fish to eat for the health of the back of the eye. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is the primary omega-3 fatty acid found in these fish. It's a nutrient that concentrates in the retina and may prevent plaque — which causes macular degeneration — from forming there. Boosting your DHA by eating four 3.5- to 4-ounce servings of cold-water fish weekly is a wonderful way to help prevent eye disease, Pratt says.
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Indeed, a Johns Hopkins study published in the journal Ophthalmology in December reported that eating fish and shellfish that are rich in omega-3 seems to protect against advanced-age-related macular degeneration, even in those who smoked or were overweight — both risk factors for the disease. Cold-water fish also may help prevent retinopathy — damage to the retina — including blindness caused by complications from diabetes.
Walnuts are the best nut source of omega-3s. Pistachios are a close second. In small amounts they can be converted to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), another omega-3 fatty acid used by the eye, along with DHA. They are full of antioxidants and vitamin E, which work to combat inflammation and preserve cardiovascular health. What's more, walnuts help to lower C-reactive protein, a marker that signals there is inflammation in the body. Having a handful of walnuts a day can cut your risk of a cardiac event by as much as 50 percent, according to several large research projects, including the ongoing Nurses Health Study. (Other types of nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and peanuts, can also provide the same heart benefit, according to the Food and Drug Administration.)
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, mulberries, cherries and even grapes are outstanding foods for protecting cardiovascular health, which makes them stars for eye health, too. They're great for lowering both inflammation and blood pressure. And high blood pressure is a risk factor for macular degeneration. Blueberries and blackberries also contain anthocyanins, which have the dark purple pigments that fight inflammation and improve blood flow. They also help prevent blockages to the arteries that feed oxygen to the retina, says Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of Doctor's Detox Diet: The Ultimate Weight Loss Prescription.