Special Report

25 Foods That Damage and Protect Your Eyes

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Red peppers

Bell peppers are an overall healthy snack, regardless of color. But red bell peppers have more vitamin C than the rest. Just one small pepper has about 95 mg of vitamin C, slightly more than the daily recommended amount. Vitamin C helps blood vessels in the eye stay healthy, Sheren noted. Red bell peppers are also a rich source of vitamin E, which some studies have shown to reduce the progression of age-related macular degeneration and cataract formation, according to the American Optometric Association.


Fries are on lists of worst foods for overall health because of the oil the potatoes are fried in and also simply because they are fried, Sheren said. Regardless of what oil you use, cooking the vegetables will result in almost all of its nutritional value disappearing. The trans fats in fries may build up and clog the arteries, resulting in high blood pressure. Hypertension may lead to eye problems such as hypertensive retinopathy.

Orange fruits

Orange fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is key for eye health. They are also rich in two anti-inflammatory carotenoids — lutein and zeaxanthin, which play a crucial role in protecting the eyes from harmful wavelengths by absorbing excess light energy, Sheren explained. There are more than 600 carotenoids found in nature, but only these two are stored in high quantities in the retina, according to the American Optometric Association.

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Sweetened drinks

Sweetened drinks have usually been sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or other artificial sugars. They increase the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, Sheren said. Too much sugar in your blood may hurt the small vessels that supply blood to the retina by causing them to swell. This may eventually lead to vision loss.

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Broccoli is a great source of bioflavonoids, which are a general category of macronutrients that help keep not just the eyes but the whole body healthy, Sheren said. There is some evidence that a particular antioxidant found in broccoli, sulforaphane, protects the eyes from oxidative stress caused by light, thus lowering the risk of age-related macular degeneration and blindness.

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