Scientists are looking at the role that nutrition plays in protecting eye health. The research shows that a diet high in certain nutrients may be linked to eye health. Taking certain nutritional supplements has also been shown to benefit those with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Taking an AREDS Supplement May Help Slow AMD
The large Age-Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS), funded by the National Eye Institute, found that people with AMD may be able to slow the progression of the disease by taking a specific amount of nutritional supplements called the AREDS formula. These supplements are:
Vitamin C (500 mg);
Vitamin E (400 IU);
Beta-carotene (15 mg);
Zinc oxide (80 mg); and
Copper oxide (2 mg).
This is promising news for people who are at risk for or already have AMD. But before stocking up on these supplements, be sure to talk with Dr’s M and VB to learn if they are recommended for you. Some people should not take large doses of antioxidants or zinc for medical reasons. Also, beta carotene has been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in people who currently smoke or recently quit smoking. Another large study evaluating the benefits of high-supplemental doses of lutein, zeaxanthin and fish oil (omega-3) is ongoing. And a large study in women showed a potential benefit from taking supplements of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12.
Choose Foods Rich in Eye-Healthy NutrientsWoman buying fruit in a grocery store.
The high levels of nutrients evaluated in the AREDS study are very difficult to get from diet alone. However, eating well is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. Making the right food choices every day provides the nutrients our eyes and the rest of our body need.
Research has found that eating foods high in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA may be good for eye health, as well as general health. To increase your dietary intake of these nutrients, enjoy dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, and cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
Choose Low-Glycemic Foods if You Have Diabetes
People who have diabetes, or are at risk for this disease, can also benefit by following a low-glycemic index (low-GI) diet. Most people with diabetes, and others who have used a low-GI diet to lose weight, are familiar with glycemic index charts. A food’s GI value is based on how fast the carbohydrates in that food raise the body’s blood sugar levels; low GI foods have less impact on the ups and downs of blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that better control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy, caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
As you think about ways to improve your eye health, remember: vitamins and nutritional supplements are not a cure for eye disease, nor will they give you back vision that you may have already lost. But good nutrition at all ages is vital for your entire body, and plays an important role in maintaining healthy eyes. Talk with Dr’s M and VB about any concerns you have about your eye health.