Science has not yet found a way to prevent macular degeneration altogether. However, research does suggest that there are some steps we can take to protect our eyes and decrease the risk of developing this disease. One of the most important steps is to carefully consider our diet and make small modifications, if necessary.
AREDS Studies Show Nutrition Matters
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (known as AREDS), a research project conducted by the National Eye Institute, was instrumental in suggesting that the right nutrition may lower the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration or slow its progression. To be clear, AREDS did not find that nutrition restores vision after it has been lost. Actually, it suggested that certain antioxidants — vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc — play an important role in helping at-risk individuals maintain their vision. The follow-up to AREDS (AREDS 2) recommended adding lutein and zeaxanthin (additional antioxidants) to the list of vision-friendly nutrients.
Vitamins C and E
Get your dose of vitamin C by eating a range of delicious, colorful fruits and vegetables, including:
- Brussels sprouts
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Berries (blackberries, raspberries)
- Summer squash
Vitamin E is also found in leafy vegetables like spinach, dandelion greens and Swish chard, as well as in almonds/almond butter, sunflower seeds/sunflower butter, avocados and olive oil.
Experts suggest eating five to nine servings of these fruits and vegetables a day (one serving = ½ cup of most foods or 1 cup of leafy greens).
The most beautifully colored produce is chock-full of beta-carotene. Think orange fruits and vegetables like carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and cantaloupe, or pink and red fruits like grapefruit, watermelon, cherries and guava.
Meats are a great source of zinc. Try lean beef, turkey, chicken, lamb or pork tenderloin. If you are more of a seafood aficionado, lobster, crab, mussels and oysters are also good sources of zinc. Vegetarians can get their dose of zinc in lentils, starch-y beans (e.g., pinto, garbanzo, kidney beans) and nuts.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These plant-based antioxidants are found in dark leafy greens and yellow vegetables (and some fruits). Foods that are high in lutein and zeaxanthin include green beans, spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, kale, okra, papayas, melons, corn, oranges/orange juice and tangerines.
If you find that you aren’t getting enough of these nutrients in your daily diet, talk to us about possibly taking a supplement. Also, with any diet or lifestyle change, it’s a good idea to talk to your primary care physician before making any serious modifications.
Contact InVision Eyecare
For more information about macular degeneration, including how to decrease your risk or how to treat it, please contact InVision Eyecare by calling (732) 210-0140.