Adding certain nutrients to your daily diet—either through foods or supplements—can help preserve your vision. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases. If you are living with Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma or another form of Low Vision, members of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists are trained to assist those with vision loss in a variety of ways including nutritional counseling. Always consult your eye doctor or physician before making changes to your nutrition regimen.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin:
These two important nutrients are found in green leafy vegetables, as well as other foods, such as eggs. Many studies show that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in kale, spinach, collards, corn, green peas, broccoli and green beans. The recommended daily amounts are 10mg of lutein and 2mg of zeaxanthin.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Scientific evidence suggests vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts. Also, when taken in combination with other essential nutrients, it can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss. Vitamin C can be found in foods such as oranges and citrus juices and fruits. It is recommended to take in about 500mg of vitamin C daily.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant found in nuts, fortified cereals and sweet potatoes. Research indicates it protects cells in the eyes from unstable molecules called free radicals, which break down healthy tissue. It is recommended to have 400mg on Vitamin E a day.
Essential Fatty Acids:
Fats are a necessary part of the human diet. They maintain the integrity of the nervous system, fuel cells and boost the immune system. Research shows omge-3 fatty acids are important for proper visual development and retinal function. Prior research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School followed up on 38,022 women and found that the women who consumed the most DHA and/or EPA (omega-3 fatty acid found in fish) had a 38 percent lower risk of developing AMD.
Having one or more servings of fish per week produced a 42 percent lower risk of AMD, compared with less than one serving per month. Canned tuna and dark-meat fish were the primary types of fish that produced this lower risk.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral or “helper molecule.” It plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, mostly in the retina and choroid, the vascular tissue layer lying under the retina. Zinc can be found in red meats, fortified cereals and milk, and it is recommended to intake anywhere from 25 to 80mg of zinc daily. However, zinc supplementation has been linked to stomach upset and interferes with copper absorption, so 2mg/day of copper is strongly recommended for people supplementing their diet with a notable more amount of zinc.
To find an International Academy of Low Vision Specialists (IALVS) trained optometrist in your area call 1-888-778-2030.