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Nutrition for Healthy Eyes

Nutrition for Healthy Eyes

Nutrition plays a vital role in keeping your vision crystal clear and preventing macular degeneration - the leading cause of irreversible blindness in adults.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

You can treat waistline and your wallet equally well.

While quitting smoking is the top lifestyle strategy to prevent macular degeneration, there are several nutrition strategies that are top research priorities being studied to help protect your eyes6.

Here are the most significant nutrition strategies for keeping your eyes healthy:

Get More Omega-3 Fats From Fish:

Omega-3 fats especially the DHA form of omega-3 fat found in fish are abundant in the retina and play an important role in development of vision1.

Diets rich in omega-3 fats from fish reduce the risk of macular degeneration2,3,4. One study found that consuming 4 or more servings of fish per week was associated with a 35% lower risk of age-related macular degeneration compared with eating ≤3 servings of fish per month1. To boost your omega-3 intake try a tuna sandwich for lunch, salmon on a salad for a quick meal, or a grilled piece of fish for dinner.

Eat More Colourful Fruit & Veggies!

Add another reason to your list of why you should increase your fruit and veggie consumption – they help protect your eyes from damage and lower your risk of macular degeneration5,6. The antioxidant carotenoids--lutein and zeaxanthin--found in dark green or yellow vegetables exist in high concentrations in the eye and are hypothesized to play a protective role6,7. Antioxidants are protective components that protect the eye from damage caused by free radicals naturally found in the eye. Other antioxidants besides the carotenoids important in eye health are vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and beta-carotene.

TOP Foods for Your Eyes

Omega-3 Fats: Fresh, frozen, canned fish/seafood

Lutein & Zeaxanthin: Dark green leafy veggies such as spinach and kale, egg yolk, peas, broccoli, corn

Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, melons, berries, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, kiwi

Beta-carotene: Carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, squash, cantaloupe, apricots, spinach, kale

Vitamin E: Vegetable oils, nuts/seeds, green leafy veggies, wheat germ

Zinc: Meat, liver, seafood, eggs, legumes, whole grain cereals, wheat germ, nuts

What about Supplements?

While there are many supplements touted to be beneficial for eye health containing blends of carotenoids, antioxidants, and vitamins/minerals research is unclear if this is beneficial7,8. Your best defense is to choose a diet rich in the real thing…eat fish and bright colored green, yellow, red, and orange fruits and veggies! Talk to your ophthalmologist to see if a supplement is right for you.

Recommended Resources:

AMD Alliance International 

Canadian Opthamological Society 

Canadian National Institute of the Blind http://www.cnib.ca

Medline Plus (US National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health) https://medlineplus.gov/maculardegeneration.html

American Macular Degeneration Foundation https://www.macular.org/what-macular-degeneration

References:

1Am J Clin Nutr. Prospective study of dietary fat and the risk of age-related macular degeneration. 2001;73:209–18.

2Arch Opthalmol. The relationship of dietary lipid intake and age-related macular degeneration in a case-control study: AREDS Report No. 20. 2007 May;125(5):671-9.

3Arch Opthalmol. Dietary fat and risk for advanced age-related macular degeneration. 2001 Aug;119(8):1191-9.

4Arch Opthalmol. Progression of age-related macular degeneration: association with dietary fat, transunsaturated fat, nuts, and fish intake. 2003 Dec;121(12):1728-37.

5Arch Opthalmol. Prospective study of intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and carotenoids and risk of age-related maculopathy.2004 Jun;122(6):883-92.

6Med J Aust.. Modifiable risk factors for age-related macular degeneration. 2006 May 1;184(9):455-8.

7JAMA. Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration. Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group.1994 Nov 9;272(18):1413-20.

8Curr Opin Opthalmol. Nutritional supplementation in age-related macular degeneration.2007 May;18(3):220-3.