A Guide To Promoting Eye Longevity At Every Age (From 20 To 60+)
Eye health concerns have become an epidemic, largely thanks to our constant use of screens. Whether you're glued to the latest TikTok trend, spending the day working at the computer, or bingeing the latest Netflix original, your eyes rarely catch a break.
Because of this, it's more important now than ever to start taking better care of your vision health (no matter your age).
7 ways to promote eye health & longevity at all ages.
On a foundational level, promoting eye health really comes down to doing the things that support overall health. No organ, including your precious eyes, are siloed from the whole body after all.
"People who live long and thrive are connected to nature, they eat natural foods, avoid the stressors of modern life, and keep physically, socially, and cognitively active," says Billy Hammond, Ph.D., a vision science researcher at the University of Georgia. "The key, really, is to do this while also taking advantage of all that we have learned in decades of good scientific study."
But there are eye-specific things you can do too, like getting your vision checked regularly and eating foods that are rich in certain nutrients and phytonutrients (like lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C). Comprehensive vision performance supplements, like mbg's eye health+, can also help support your eye health now—and down the road.*
1. Get your eyes checked regularly.
- Age 18 to 64: At least every two years if you're asymptomatic; at least once a year (or as recommended by your eye doctor) if you have vision concerns or are genetically predisposed to specific eye issues
- Age 65 and older: Once a year if you're asymptomatic; at least once a year (or as recommended by your eye doctor) if you currently have or are genetically predisposed to vision concerns
2. Eat nutrients to support your eye health and function.
According to optometrist Jeffrey Anshel, O.D., FAAO, what you eat determines how well you see. While eating a varied diet is important, there are specific nutrients and plant bioactives that are especially critical for your eyes (which are one of the most highly metabolic organs in the body):*
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: As Hammond explains, these carotenoids are found in high concentrations in the retina (especially the macula), where they help protect the retinal cells from oxidative stress due to light, pollutants, and other environmental stressors. "They also improve visual function by decreasing glare and photostress and improving chromatic contrast and visual range (i.e., seeing far in the distance)," he says. Leafy greens and egg yolks are the best food sources of these carotenoids.
- Astaxanthin: Astaxanthin increases ocular blood flow, clears out waste and toxins, and combats oxidative stress. "These compounds [lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin] are unique in that they cross the blood-retinal barrier to actually reach the eyes and bring protective benefits to that part of the body," registered dietitian Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN, previously wrote for mbg. Red seafood—like salmon, lobster, crayfish, and shrimp—are the best food sources of astaxanthin.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A supports the functions of the cornea and the conjunctiva—a thin membrane over the eye that provides protection and lubrication. Sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, red peppers, and mangoes are good dietary sources of vitamin A.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids promote macular health and help lubricate the eye. It's worth noting that marine omega-3 DHA is particularly beneficial for supporting overall retinal health and visual acuity. The best dietary sources of omega-3s include fatty fish like anchovies, salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines and then the omega-3 ALA is found concentrated in nuts and seeds, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
- Vitamin C: Because the eyes have a high metabolic rate and utilize a lot of energy, they need extra antioxidant protection. Vitamin C not only works as a potent antioxidant but also helps regenerate other antioxidants, like vitamin E, in the eye. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) are all foods rich in vitamin C.
- Vitamin E: Like vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect the eye from oxidative stress. Specifically, vitamin E reduces lipid oxidation in the retina, which has a high concentration of fatty acids. It also promotes vasodilation, improving blood flow to the eye. As Anshel shares, the aqueous humor, which supplies nutrients to the lens, contains 26x more vitamin C than any other fluid in the body. The best food sources of vitamin E are wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin, beet greens, collard greens, and spinach.
- Zinc: Zinc carries vitamin A from the liver to the retina, where it helps produce melanin—a pigment that gives your iris its color and helps protect your vision. Oysters, red meat, and poultry are the best food sources of the essential zinc mineral.
- Copper: Copper protects the ocular nerves and promotes macular health. Shellfish, nuts and seeds, and organ meats are all great food sources of copper (another trace mineral, like zinc).
3. Take a comprehensive eye health supplement.
Taking a comprehensive eye health supplement like mbg's eye health+ can deliver concentrated (read: research-backed) doses of key botanical nutrients to ensure that you're holistically supporting your eye health, performance, and longevity.*
Visual performance support for the digital age*
In addition to full-potency doses of lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin, eye health+ contains cutting-edge, vision-supporting botanicals maqui berry and saffron.* Together, this lineup of antioxidant plant bioactive powerhouses supports your eyes by scavenging free radicals and promoting daily cleanup of oxidative stress and other "gunk."* The ingredients have individual benefits rooted in clinical research, too:
- As mentioned above, lutein and zeaxanthin, macular carotenoids, are back-of-the-eye essentials, improving photostress recovery and helping with light and contrast sensitivity. Sourced from marigold flowers, this phytonutrient duo are the main compounds that protect the eyes from blue light, acting like "internal sunglasses" and improving visual performance overall.*
- Sustainably sourced algal astaxanthin is working hard at the front of your eyes especially, supporting focus and refocus, visual sharpness and acuity, and depth perception. It also promotes ocular blood flow.*
- Maqui berry is full of anthocyanins, a wonderfully vibrant category of polyphenolic phytochemicals. Sourced from Chile, the unique Patagonian maqui berry fruit helps reduce ocular fatigue and lubricates and hydrates the eyes by promoting tear production.*
- An ancient and premium spice, saffron has detoxifying properties that protect your eyes from oxidative stress that can come from toxins, free radicals, and other byproducts from blue light, excessive light, too much screen time, and pollutants.*
As a population, we are largely under-consuming eye-critical carotenoids due to a below-average intake of fruits and vegetables (lutein and zeaxanthin) and seafood (astaxanthin). Nationally, we have a "hungry eyes" situation.
Taking a thoughtfully formulated eye health supplement can help bridge this functional phytonutrient gap and supply the comprehensive and targeted support (i.e., the rainbow of botanicals and their science-backed benefits explored above) your tired eyes desperately need.*
4. Exercise regularly.
Exercise promotes longevity of the whole body, including your eyes, by improving metabolic health (think blood sugar balance, inflammatory status, and endothelial function) and helping maintain a healthy body composition.
Physical exercise also increases blood flow to the choroidal, a thin layer of tissue between the white layer of your eyes (sclera) and retinas that supplies oxygen and nutrients to your eyes.
5. Practice the 20-20-20 Rule.
The "20-20-20 Rule" states that for every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, you should focus your eyes on something 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds. This simple solution for combating digital eye strain and eye fatigue was developed by optometrist Anshel in the '90s. When you're looking at a screen, set your alarm to go off every 20 minutes to remind you to take a break.
6. Protect your eyes from blue light.
While blue light is more often associated with computer and phone screens, it comes from the sun too. In fact, Anshel says as far as blue light exposure goes, spending 15 minutes in the sun without eye protection is equivalent to spending 15 hours in front of a computer.
Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses outside and blue light glasses when you're looking at screens for an extended period of time. Blue light also influences the body's natural circadian rhythm, so try to stop your screen exposure at least two hours before bedtime, too.
7. Don't smoke.
The sooner you quit smoking, the better it will be for your eye longevity. Smoking can negatively affect the major structures in your eyes—including the retina, macula, and lens—and contribute to suboptimal vision and eye health outcomes over time.
Aside from the obvious toxins consumed via smoking and significant reduction in blood flow and endothelial health that nicotine directly causes, smoking also depletes vitamin C stores in the aqueous humor (and the rest of your body) at a faster rate.
In short, smoking enhances the production of free radicals while decreasing antioxidant activity in the eyes and blood flow to the eyes and the rest of the body—a triple whammy for oxidative stress.
How to take care of your eyes at each stage of life.
While you should always eat an eye-healthy diet and get regular eye exams, different stages of your life will require different types of eye care. Here's the best way to take care of your eyes as you age, according to research and experts.
In your 20s:
Digital eye strain and screen fatigue from regularly looking at phones and tablets are some of the biggest issues in your 20s. In addition to getting regular eye exams (at least every two years if you have no specific vision concerns or annually if you do) Anshel recommends always practicing the "20-20-20 Rule" and the "Three B Approach"—breathe, blink, and break.
Daily phytonutrient support for tired eyes and photoprotection from blue light can also be leveraged for targeted support.*
In your 30s:
Thirtysomethings deal with similar eye challenges (i.e., digital eye strain and screen fatigue), often due to workspace ergonomics and staring at a computer screen all day. The same "rules" apply here: Get regular eye exams (one every two years if you're asymptomatic or at least annually if you're experiencing eye concerns or you wear corrective lenses) and practice the "20-20-20 Rule."
Additionally, eye pressure tests become more important as you advance into your 30s, Anshel says. An ergonomic adjustment to your workspace can also help with eye strain, in addition to folding in daily critical nutrients like astaxanthin and others clinically shown to actively combat eye strain and improve eye performance.*
In your 40s:
As you reach your 40s, you may notice your vision—particularly your ability to see close objects—starts to change. You may start experiencing more eye dryness as well. This is a normal part of life, but there are still things you can (and should) do to protect your vision and eye health.
The "20-20-20 Rule" becomes more important than ever in your 40s since this is when close vision tasks (i.e., near focus) become more difficult and reading and focal issues start to appear, says Anshel. You also want to make sure you're wearing proper eyewear—including any prescription glasses and/or blue-light glasses when looking at a screen. Of course, regular eye exams are still crucial. Plus, key botanical actives have clinical research support for visual acuity and eye lubrication.*
In your 50s:
In your 50s, you may notice that the near-vision challenges and eye dryness that began in your 40s start to become more obvious. This is when you really want to double down on the nutrients that promote macular health—especially lutein and zeaxanthin.*
In the AREDS clinical trial follow-up study published in JAMA Ophthalmology in June 2022, researchers found that supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin was more beneficial for macular health than beta-carotene (aka vitamin A).*
These carotenoids usually occur together in foods, so eating plenty of leafy greens—like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and parsley—can set the foundation for getting what you need. Egg yolks are also an excellent source. In fact, Anshel shares that the carotenoids in egg yolks are actually more bioavailable than those you get from greens.
To ensure that you're consuming clinically relevant amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin your eyes need each day, along with other science-backed eye botanicals, consider prioritizing an advanced and comprehensive vision health formula, like mbg's eye health+.*
In your 60s and beyond:
Once you hit your 60s, regular eye exams become absolutely critical. This is when the AOA changes its recommendations to encourage getting an eye exam every year, no matter the status of your eye health. If you have specific vision concerns or are genetically predisposed to eye health issues, you should get your eyes checked at least annually.
While essential at all stages of life, in older adulthood, it's especially important to make sure you're getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and vitamin C to promote macular and lens health.* mbg's eye health+ can also help combat eye dryness, which is a common issue in most adults over 65.*
Eating a nutrient-rich diet, managing stress, smoking cessation, getting enough sleep, engaging in digital eye strain exercises, and wearing proper eye protection are vital to keeping your eyes healthy.
Cutting-edge visual performance supplements designed for the digital age we all live in, like mbg's eye health+, can also deliver daily targeted eye care support for visual health, function, and longevity at every life stage.*
In just one vegan capsule a day, this plant-powered eye formula is chock-full of clinically researched botanicals, delivering comprehensive support that helps combat oxidative stress, improve ocular blood flow, promote retinal and macular health, and lubricate and moisturize the eyes.*
Visual performance support for the digital age*
Visual performance support for the digital age*