Many of us worry about our eyesight as we age, and rightfully so. Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a disease causing the loss of vision in those over 65. There is no cure for AMD, so you must take preventative measures. Recent studies show that foods rich in antioxidants may reduce the risk of AMD or slow its progression. We all know carrots are good for your eyes – but even rabbits get sick of carrots sometimes. Patients often ask me, what other foods are good for your vision?
Recently, I came upon a very useful resource: the Feast Your Eyes On This! Summer Cookbook, published by EyeCare America. This cookbook has numerous recipes that include different types of food beneficial for your eyesight. It recommends lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc. Now this doesn’t mean a lot to most people – who is going to scour their pantry ingredients list for these antioxidants? But, this might help:
- Most fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers and tomatoes.
- Vitamin E can be found in vegetable oils (safflower and corn oil), almonds, pecans, wheat germ and sunflower seeds.
- For beta-carotene, try deep orange or yellow fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe, mangos, apricots, peaches, sweet potatoes and carrots.
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collard greens, asparagus and spinach are the primary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Good sources of zinc include beef, pork, lamb, oysters, eggs, shellfish, milk, peanuts, whole grains and wheat germ.
- Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are leafy green vegetables, nuts, fish, and vegetable oils such as canola, soy, and especially flaxseed.
- The recipes include delicious salads, skewers, salmon, corn chips, pasta primavera, grilled tuna, and more… including sushi! These recipes are simple and healthy, not only for your eyes but for your diet as well. Check out the cookbook for the specific recipes to incorporate many of the ingredients listed above into your diet.
“We eat with our eyes, and that’s why colorful foods appeal to our senses. In fact, they may add years and quality to our lives, too. The more colors we eat, the more protection we’re giving our eyes and our bodies. Enjoying a rainbow of food options means eating and staying healthy.” – Mr. Food, the contributor of a Caesar Pasta Primavera recipe
Eating a well-balanced diet helps you maintain a healthy weight, which makes you less likely to be diagnosed with obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults. If you smoke, you are more susceptible to cataracts, optic nerve damage, and AMD. And remember, you should have your eyes examined regularly. Eye exams can detect some diseases, such as glaucoma, which have no symptoms.