As medical technology continues to advance, Americans are living longer. Now, more than ever before, we must commit to healthy lifestyle habits to protect our vision.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects as many as one in every three American adults over the age of 60. New research reveals that nutrition can play a vital role in protecting against AMD. Two European studies of over 5,000 people concluded that a Mediterranean diet that was rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, fish, poultry, and plant-based oils lowered the risk for AMD.
The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin have unique benefits in preventing AMD. They are phytochemicals and help absorb blue light that penetrates deep into the retina. Dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and mustard greens are some of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.
The Mediterranean diet is also helpful in preventing cataracts. Along with lutein and zeaxanthin, colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains provide vitamins A, C and E which help neutralize harmful free radicals that damage the lens of the eye. Leafy greens, orange peppers, carrots, berries, citrus fruits, walnuts, and wheat germ are just a few of the many nutritious foods that protect the eyes from oxidative stress.
Research shows that getting essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients from our food is much more effective than taking dietary supplements. Many Americans are lacking many of these key nutrients that are essential for eye health. It may be wise to talk to your doctor about taking a supplement temporarily while you improve your diet (Source: Albuquerque Journal).
Good eye health is not just about diet; it is a lifestyle. To maintain good vision and prevent degenerative eye disease, follow these basic guidelines:
- Eat a varied diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Limit your consumption of red meat and processed foods.
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake.
- Get regular physical activity.
- Shield your eyes from sunlight by wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Schedule a comprehensive eye exam at least every other year, or as directed by your eye doctor.
To find out more about how you can maintain health vision, visit the Save Your Vision page.