Choosing the Right Foods Makes a Difference in Vision Health
By Dr. Joseph Nezgoda
The eye is a great indicator of general health. As vision is critical to our daily lives and the way we experience the world, small changes are often detected through our eyes than from any other organ system. Foods that are rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids (in particular DHA and EPA) have been found to be excellent for the eye, according to the Age-Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS), funded by the National Institutes Of Health. These nutrients are linked to lower risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), dry eye and great for general health.
When going shopping or dining out look to chose dark leafy-green vegetables such as spinach and kale, vegetable oils (over butter), whole grains, and fish such as salmon.
Those with macular degeneration can possibly slow the progression of the disease by taking a daily supplement called the includes:
- Vitamin C (500 mg);
- Vitamin E (400 IU);
- Lutein (10 mg);
- Zeaxanthin (2 mg);
- Zinc oxide (80 mg); and
- Copper oxide (2 mg).
These are promising results for people with AMD or at risk. But before stocking up on these supplements, be sure to talk with your retina doctor to learn if they are recommended for you. Some people should not take large doses of antioxidants or zinc for medical reasons.
If you currently take an older version of the supplement based on the original AREDS formula, ask your retina doctor before you switch to the AREDS 2 formula.
People who smoke should ask their physician before taking the original AREDS supplement, because one of the ingredients, beta carotene, as been associated with a higher risk of lung cancer in smokers or people who have recently quit smoking. An alternate version of the original AREDS supplement formulated to be safe for smokers is available. Your Eye M.D. can give you more information on this option.
The new AREDS 2 formula does not contain beta carotene.
A large study in women showed a potential benefit from taking supplements of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12.
As you think about ways to improve your eye health, remember: vitamins and nutritional supplements are not a cure for eye disease, nor will they give you back vision that you may have already lost. But good nutrition at all ages is vital for your entire body, and plays an important role in maintaining healthy eyes. Talk with your Eye M.D. about any concerns you have about your eye health.