Your Diet Counts
The loss of sight induces a sense of fear that almost feels primal. When one of our most frequently used senses fails to function, we feel threatened and we are forced to acclimate by relying more heavily on our senses of hearing and touch. Perhaps this natural association of vision loss with danger accounts for the fear that we experience when diagnosed with a condition like age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
According to AMD.org, this condition is the primary cause of severe vision loss, worsens with age, and manifests itself in one of two forms - wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration. These two forms differ in the particular manner in which they damage the retina and macula. While the wet form affects a meager 10-15% of individuals diagnosed with macular degeneration, it is responsible for a staggering 90% of the severe vision loss associated with the condition. While these statistics are quite frightening at first, there is hope in that treatments and preventative actions may be able to slow the progression of this condition.
As is the case with most health afflictions, a proper diet can do wonders to reduce the symptoms of this condition and, according to some doctors, diet may even be able to heal wet macular degeneration in some people. A key study conducted by the National Eye Institute - titled the long-term Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) - discovered that when supplementing a diet with a few critical nutrients, the risk of developing macular degeneration was reduced. “Let food be thy medicine” and incorporate the following research-supported foods and nutrients into an “anti-AMD” diet.
- Vitamin C: Found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, but especially prevalent in citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lime and lemon.
- Vitamin E: Found in fortified cereals and grains; sunflower seeds; almonds; peanuts and tofu.
- Zinc: Found in meat; fortified cereals; dried beans; whole wheat and buckwheat.
- Copper: Found in dark, leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, turnip greens and mustard greens; legumes; whole grains; nuts and seeds.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Found in dark, leafy greens; broccoli; zucchini; and eggs.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna.
Not only will a diet rich in these foods help to protect one’s eyes, it will also contribute to an overall higher level of health and wellbeing. It is best to obtain these nutrients by eating a variety of whole foods; adding dietary supplements only when it is impossible for one to take in adequate amounts of nutrients through diet alone. If eating the perfect diet seems daunting, make sure you check out our Eye Love Omega-3 (good for more than just dry eye!) and Eye Love Ocular Health Formula (our version of the AREDS2 research)!
At first one may feel a bit intimidated by the prospect of completely changing his or her diet. We often eat food for more reasons than just hunger. We equate food with emotion and experience. From a young age we celebrate birthdays with a delicious slice of chocolate cake, and we are rewarded with a lollipop or piece of candy when displaying good behavior. However, the lasting health benefits of nutrient-rich foods far outweigh the fleeting happiness that accompanies a sweet treat. With time, proper nutrition becomes a habit that is rewarded with a longer and richer life. Let us know some of your favorite eye-healthy foods below!
Dr. Jenna Zigler