Laser eye surgery is a procedure which you’ll be completely awake for, so there are no restrictions about what you can eat in the lead up to your treatment. We recommend having your meals as usual on the day of your surgery and ensuring that you are well hydrated. Being well hydrated goes a long way to ensuring your eyes are well lubricated, and this is an essential part of laser eye surgery recovery as you may experience dry eyes during this period. After your treatment, we advise you to continue eating your meals as usual (as well as you can fit them around your post-surgery naps anyway!). However, there are certain foods which can help boost your recovery process after treatment due to their numerous benefits for your eye health.
Which foods are good for laser eye surgery recovery?
In terms of the food groups which are great for post-laser recovery, you should aim for lots of protein and carbohydrates, as well as vitamin C and healthy fats. In particular, chicken, fish and eggs are great for wound healing and tissue regeneration, as are beans, nuts and legumes. Vitamin C is also said to speed up the healing process, and you can eat more citrus fruits, strawberries and bell peppers to increase your vitamin C intake. Healthy fats are known to decrease inflammation, and it is likely that you will experience some inflammation following your eye surgery. Foods which contain healthy fats include avocados, olive oil, dark chocolate and chia seeds.
To help combat the dryness that often accompanies laser eye surgery in the early stages of recovery, you could look to introduce more fish into your diet. Fish contains omega-3 which is a fatty acid known to help reduce eye dryness by improving your tear film’s oily layer. This, combined with flaxseed, is a good option to help lubricate your eyes during laser eye surgery recovery, potentially reducing the discomfort that comes with severely dry eyes. However, above all, to help with this you should make an effort stay well hydrated in the days and weeks after your laser eye surgery.
Which foods should you avoid to benefit your eye health?
Linking back to hydration, a diet high in salty food can lead to dehydration, and we’ve just established that hydration is one of the key components in laser eye surgery recovery. It is also crucial for your overall eye health in general. Salty foods are often processed, bringing us onto processed meats which are usually high in saturated fats. An excess of saturated fat in your diet can lead to high cholesterol and its associated eye conditions, such as macular degeneration, retinal changes and, eventually, loss of vision.
You should also try to avoid processed sugars and foods which raise your blood sugar level too much. Consistently high sugar levels can damage your retina’s blood vessels, causing new abnormal blood vessels to grow. This leads to a number of eye health issues but when new blood vessels grow on your iris, it can increase your eye pressure and glaucoma risk. This is just one example of how dietary choices impact your vision and lead to damage within the eye.
Top 10 foods for good overall eye health
Even if you aren’t currently in your laser eye surgery recovery period, it’s still important that you eat the right balance of foods in order to look after your eye health. 10 of the best foods you can eat to benefit your eyes, including the key nutrients they contain, are:
- Beans, legumes and nuts – Omega-3, vitamin E, zinc
- Seeds – Vitamin E, omega-3
- Fish – Omega-3
- Citrus fruits – Vitamin C
- Grapes – antioxidants
- Leafy greens – lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin A
- Carrots – Vitamin A
- Eggs – lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin D
- Sweet potatoes – vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E
- Dark chocolate – cocoa flavanols
Looking at this list, it can be tricky to know exactly what each of these vitamins and nutrients does for your eye health.
To help simplify things, we’ve got some pointers on exactly what each of them is great for when it comes to your eye health.
Omega-3 and its fatty acids
are proven to help protect your eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma. As we touched on previously, oily fish can help minimize dry eye symptoms so if you’ve been dealing with dry eyes, you can try to introduce salmon, tuna, and trout into your diet. Recent studies have also suggested that eating dark meat fish around 3 times a week lowers your chances of developing AMD.
is known to protect against age-related damage to your eyes. A lot of the eye conditions we’ve mentioned here are more likely to occur as you age, so vitamin E is particularly important when it comes to cataracts, AMD and glaucoma.
is proven to reduce night blindness and slow the progression of AMD – in fact, taking 40-80 milligrams per day of zinc could slow AMD progression by 25%. You can find zinc in beans and legumes and it’s particularly beneficial for your retina and its surrounding tissues.
has been linked to a lower cataract risk, and it’s typically found in high concentration in citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. Other fruits and vegetables like strawberries and bell peppers also contain vitamin C, as do sweet potatoes.
Such as those found in grapes are thought to help reduce your likelihood of developing cataracts. Around 18 million people have cataract surgery globally each year, and we perform thousands of those at Optimax. It is suggested that the antioxidants in grapes prevent the initial clumping of proteins in the eye’s natural lens which leads to cataracts forming. One of the key parts of the studies which have confirmed this compared ageing populations in different countries (the US and the Mediterranean), and observed the differences in their diets.
Lutein and zeaxanthin have been proven to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) damage, which is a key trigger for cataract formation and macular degeneration. Eggs are particularly rich in lutein and zeaxanthin – in fact, eating one egg a day for 5 weeks increases lutein levels by 26% and zeaxanthin levels by 38%.
Is converted from beta carotene, a nutrient found in orange coloured foods. Examples of these include carrots and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A helps with the production of rod and cone cells in your retina, promoting better vision in low lighting. It also helps to reduce your risk of developing AMD, cataracts and glaucoma.
are found in chocolate and promote a higher flow of oxygen and nutrients to your eyes’ blood vessels. Apparently, eating a bar of dark chocolate (72%) significantly improves people’s contrast sensitivity and visual acuity, when compared to their vision after having no chocolate, or even just milk chocolate. Although the studies carried out in this area don’t have any evidence to suggest these vision changes are permanent, any excuse to eat more chocolate is good enough!
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