Eat for Your Eyesight
Victoria Shanta Retely
In our aging nation, it's not surprising that age-related deteriorating eye conditions are increasing. From birth, our eyes filter light--from sunlight to the more damaging blue light (light waves that make the sky look blue) with detrimental effects over time.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys one's central vision, is the largest cause of vision loss in the U.S., affecting five percent of people aged 65 and older. AMD is debilitating; it can obstruct your ability to see the details of someone's face, or read a book or road sign. And once AMD progresses, there's no turning back.
Eye health is contingent upon multiple factors. According to the
Just like your skin, your eyes need "sunscreen," too. Eating wisely can be a protective salve for your eyes. New research suggests that key foods and nutrients might be a simple, inexpensive treatment option to help protect vision.
Enter the Age-Related Eye Disease Study. The last two decades of research have generated vital data on eye health and nutrition. Specifically, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), a 2001 clinical trial led by researchers at the
In fact, high potency antioxidant and/or zinc supplementation taken daily reduced the risk of advanced AMD by 25 percent, according to the study findings, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology in
The next generation study, AREDS2 (scheduled for completion in 2012), takes the formula a step further by adding the carotenoids (naturally-occurring plant pigments) lutein and zeaxanthin, and/or the omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (
In addition, the study will look at the effects of eliminating beta-carotene and reducing zinc in the original AREDS supplement.
"AMD is a complicated scenario. The interaction of a number of genes and lifestyle factors may come into play," explains
COLORFUL CAROTENOIDS FOR EYE HEALTH
Looking for another reason to eat leafy greens like kale and spinach?
These vegetables are high in two eye-protective carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which earned the attention of AREDS2 researchers.
Yellow foods like corn and egg yolks also contain high levels.
Hens eat carotenoid-rich corn and marigold petals and pass those nutrients into their eggs' yolks.
Deposits of these carotenoids form the macular pigment in your eye's retina. According to research in the
Eying omega-3 fatty acids.
Researchers have also homed in on omega-3 fatty acids for potential eye health benefits. DHA is largely present in the eye's retina. And, omega-3 fatty acids' powerful anti-inflammatory properties hold promise for fending off eye diseases like AMD, which is believed to be rooted in inflammation.
Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of
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