Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a loss of central vision that can occur in two forms: “dry” (atrophic) and “wet” (exudative). The dry form of AMD is the most common and generally tends to result in less severe vision loss. While there is no specific treatment for dry AMD, studies have shown a potential benefit from eye vitamin supplements, a healthy diet, protection from the ultraviolet light of the sun and cessation of smoking. The less common wet form may respond to injections if detected and treated early.
Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, omega 3 supplements or consumption of fatty fish, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc to reducing the risk of AMD. Always consult your Optometrist before taking eye vitamins and for more information on vitamin supplementation based on genetic testing, refer to our previous 20/20 Tuesday post.
Even for healthy individuals who do not have AMD, including more foods in the diet that contain vitamins and minerals which are found in the eye or are used in the visual processes can be beneficial. For example, carotenoids are unsaturated compounds of yellow to red pigments that contain antioxidant properties and are found in many fruits and vegetables. Lutein and zeaxanthin are types of carotenoids that are found around the macula (area of central vision) and are especially important to protecting vision because they can help absorb harmful UV rays.
Great sources of lutein, zeaxanthin include:
– dark leafy greens: spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens
– summer squash, sweet potatoes
– pumpkin, carrots, orange bell peppers
– brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, green peas
When you’re choosing what to eat, don’t forget to think of your eyes. Eat well to see well and feel well.