Protect Your Vision

One of my best friends, Natalie, is graduating from Illinois College of Optometry in a few short weeks. Since she’s quite the eye expert, I thought I’d pick her brain about eye nutrition. Here’s what Ms. McKee shared:

According to the National Eye Institute, women are more predisposed to eye diseases due to hormonal factors, and because women generally live longer.

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a condition that destroys the macula, the part of our eye that allows us to read, see fine detail, watch television and recognize faces.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS, a major clinical trial funded by the National Eye Institute) found that a combination of  beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc (in supplement form) may reduce the progression to advanced AMD by 25 percent.

AMD has historically been the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, usually not affecting people until they are age 65 and older.  However, with the diabetic epidemic that is facing our nation, diabetes has surpassed AMD as the leading cause of blindness in the population 40 and over! Damage to the blood vessels in the eye, secondary to poor blood sugar control, is known as diabetic retinopathy.

Therefore, what you eat, and how you take care of yourself not only impacts your waistline, but affects your eyes, as well.  Living a healthy, balanced lifestyle, full of nutrient rich fruits, veggies and whole grains can ward of diabetes, high blood pressure, and prevent damage to our eyes. 🙂

What’s the best nutrition for our eyes?

  • Eat a well-rounded diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, legumes, low-fat dairy and lean protein sources, including fatty fish.
  • Eat dark green, leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, Swiss chard and collard greens). These dark green veggies contain high amounts of  lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against the development of age-related macular degeneration, and offer protection through their roles as blue light filters and antioxidants.
  • A diet rich in the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, is associated with a decreased risk of AMD. Omega-3 fatty acids protect our eyes from damage and prevent dry eye. Good sources of DHA include salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines.
  • Maintain good blood glucose control. Have your blood glucose labs checked when you have your annual physical. If they are abnormal, work with a registered dietitian to improve your diet, and hopefully prevent diabetes before it’s too late!

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1 Comment

  1. Denise D says:

    I wish more eye doctors would focus on the benefits of a healthy diet for our vision. Since changing to an 80% raw food diet, I have experienced changes in my vision, skin, PMS and irritable bowel syndrome. The changes have been remarkable! If we teach children from an early age to stay away from processed foods and enjoy healthy nutritious meals and snacks, it could prevent our future generation from unnecessary deterioration of their eyes.

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