Eye Healthy Eating

A nutrient rich diet can contribute to tip-top eye and vision health.  Carotenoids, the colorful pigments in fruits and vegetables, are powerful antioxidants that protect against cellular damage and when combined with other essential vitamins and nutrients provide health benefits vital for aging eyes.

Vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids all play important roles in reducing the risks for certain eye diseases.  The NEI AREDS2 study found that increased antioxidant vitamin intake reduced advanced age-related macular degeneration risk by 25% and reduced vision loss by 19%.  Other recent studies showed that higher vitamin C and E intake lowered overall cataract risk and progression.

For ocular nutrition, the more fruit and veggies and the more raw or non-prepared the better.  Fill your plate with a rainbow of foods with carotenoids suggest Dr. Jennifer Carver.  Dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach and collards have lutein, which is important for good macular function.  Carrots and pumpkin are great sources of beta carotene and vitamin C too.  Swap fatty meats for lean protein such as salmon.  It's loaded with eye-rich nutrients, including zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.  Zinc plays an essential role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, the protective pigment in the eyes.

(Excerpted from AOA Focus March 2018)