NY Ophthalmologist Andreas Wolter, M.D., reminded us about the importance of how food choices and eating properly can affect eye health and vision. “Almost everyone is aware that diet is an important consideration in overall health-especially as related to cardiovascular problems, blood pressure problems and certainly in keeping our arteries healthy,” said Dr. Wolter of Seeta Eye Centers in Poughkeepsie, New York. “I like to discuss with patients-especially seniors-that maintaining eye health and vision depend on the very tiny blood vessels in the eye being able to supply oxygen and nutrients to the delicate tissues-especially in the retina. Keeping those blood vessels healthy is an important part of preserving vision as we age. As part of an overall healthy diet, several key nutrients appear to be particularly important to preserving sight as we get older", Dr. Wolter further explained.
Vitamin C, Vitamin E & Zinc
Over 10 years ago the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) reported that people given vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, and zinc in supplements were less likely to develop advanced age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. The combination was most effective at slowing the progression from intermediate to advanced AMD, which is one of the leading causes of age-related blindness. Because of those findings, many people diagnosed with early signs of AMD today are routinely prescribed a pill that combines these nutrients. You may or may not benefit from depending on your overall health and eye condition.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Two other nutrients-lutein and zeaxanthin-are also linked to lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. A 2008 Tufts University study of 1,802 women 50 to 79 years old found that those who consumed the most lutein and zeaxanthin in their diets were 23% less likely to develop cataracts than those who consumed the least. Rich sources of these two compounds include kale, spinach, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
The newest nutrient linked to better vision with age is Omega-3 fatty acid, which is found predominantly in fish oil. In a study of 2,520 people, researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported in 2010 that people who consumed fish high in Omega-3s fatty acids often were significantly less likely to have advanced age-related macular degeneration. Omega-3s may also protect against cataracts, according to 2010 findings by researchers at the Clinical University of Navarra in Spain. Researchers don’t understand exactly why omega-3s may protect against eye diseases. One guess is that these healthy oils may reduce inflammation and thereby protect against cell damage.
Pills vs. Food/p>
Although antioxidant supplements are routinely prescribed to people with early signs of macular degeneration, there’s little agreement on whether supplements will help otherwise healthy people preserve their vision. Most of the evidence to date is very mixed. In one recent study, for example, a multivitamin seemed to protect against some forms of cataracts but actually raise the risk of other forms.
PATIENTS SHOULD NOT BEGIN TAKING SUPPLEMENTS WITHOUT FIRST DISCUSSING IT WITH THEIR EYE DOCTOR AND INTERNIST OR FAMILY PHYSICIAN.
Eating a healthy diet with healthy food choices is a good plan to help you maintain your eye health and vision as you age. For certain, eating more vegetables-including cabbage, broccoli, pepper, corn, or spinach-improved the condition of the retina in people with age-related macular degeneration.
If you or someone you know has questions about eating, diet, food and how it affects eye health and vision please feel free to schedule an appointment for an eye exam by calling Seeta Eye Centers at 845-454-1025 , visiting Seeta Eye Centers or facebook.com/seetaeyecenters
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