Special Report

25 Foods That Damage and Protect Your Eyes

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Adding condiments to a meal is a common way to enhance its flavor. But many of them — ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayo, to name a few — often contain artificial additives and are loaded with salt and sugar. You want to avoid these for overall health, including the eyes, Sheren said. A lot of sugar in your body can cause blood vessels in the eyes to narrow. As a result, fluid may build up because it can’t drain properly. This may eventually cause glaucoma.

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Fish, in general, is good for the eyes because it’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect eyes from macular degeneration, Dr. Sheren noted. Omega-3s also help with proper drainage of intraocular fluid, which is the fluid in the front part of the eyes. It’s best to go for cold-water fish like sardines, herring, and salmon.

Big fish

Whenever you pick fish you should go for smaller fish, Dr. Sheren said. This is because of mercury, which can damage the eyes as it accumulates in the cells that respond to light. Mercury gets stored and bioaccumulates when fish consume it, which is why bigger fish can be riskier to eat. Tuna, especially canned tuna, is popular in the American diet, but it’s a big fish so you may want to avoid it. Other big fish to avoid include tilefish, shark, swordfish, and mackerel.


Nuts are generally a good food option for the eyes. “Every nut has its benefits,” Dr. Sheren said. Walnuts, cashews, peanuts, and hazelnuts are just a few examples of nuts that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They are also rich in vitamin E, which protects the eyes from age-related damage, he noted.

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Deli and other processed meats

Deli and processed meats are generally bad for your health, Sheren said. “They are high in salt and saturated fat.” High salt intake increases blood pressure, which may result in a temporary increase in eye pressure. The effects of high blood sodium levels on eye health are still debated but some evidence suggests that it increases the risk of cataracts and damage to the retina.

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