For most of us seeing clearly is a fundamental daily experience that we take for granted. But we shouldn’t. More than 10 million Americans over 55 experience macular degeneration, which causes you to slowly lose sight of items in the middle of your field of vision. A leading cause of blindness in older people, macular degeneration is irreversible, but scientists are researching what steps we can take to help prevent it. Eating well may be one of them.
Add in Antioxidants
A large-scale study at the National Eye Institute found that taking high levels of certain antioxidants and zinc can significantly reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Subjects in the study took high doses of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc oxide and copper oxide. And while the NEI does not recommend everyone follow the same regimen, experts do advise making sure you get plenty of these nutrients in a healthy diet. So you can try:
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, Brussels’ sprouts, and broccoli
- Vitamin E: avocados, nuts, seeds, wheat germ
- Beta-Carotene: Foods that are bright orange or deep green, including carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, peaches and leafy greens such as kale, collards and spinach
- Zinc: Turkey, chicken, oysters, chickpeas, fortified cereal
Omega-3 fatty acids, plentiful in oily fish such as salmon and sardines, and nuts such as walnuts, are not only terrific for your heart, but they may help reduce your risk of macular degeneration. Learn more about the healing power of omega-3 fatty acids.
Blackcurrants contain compound anthocyanosides, which may be helpful for promoting night vision. Also called cassis, they can be found in jams, jellies, scones and pies.
Two other nutrients that show promise in improving eye health are lutein and zeaxanthin. They sound far out but are easy to find.
- Good lutein sources: spinach, peas, and green bell peppers
- Good sources of zeaxanthin: corn, spinach, orange bell peppers, and tangerines
Limit your intake of carbohydrates that are quickly digested and absorbed, such as white bread, corn chips and other refined grains. Diets rich in these “high-glycemic” foods have been shown to increase a key risk factor for the development of macular degeneration.