Best Foods for Healthy Eyes
October is Eye Health Month. Here, find out how to lower your risk of serious vision loss from advanced age-related macular degeneration.
The health benefits of oily fish have been widely reported including reduced risk for heart disease, depression and certain kinds of cancers. Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids has also long been thought to be good for maintaining eye health.
Research from Johns Hopkins University backs up previous studies showing that fatty fish-eaters tend to have lower rates of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — a condition where vision becomes increasingly blurry and distorted due to damage to part of the retina. This can impair basic daily activities such as reading, driving or even recognizing faces.
While there is no cure for AMD, there are some treatments and lifestyle changes that can help to prevent serious vision loss.
The study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, says that omega-3 fatty acids — found in oily fish such as salmon, albacore tuna and mackerel — may affect the development or progression of AMD.
Researchers looked at data from 2,520 adults aged 65 to 84 who underwent eye exams and completed detailed dietary questionnaires. And while they found no clear relationship between participants’ reported fish intake and the risk of AMD, there was a link between higher intake of omega-3-rich fish and the odds of having advanced AMD, the most serious stage of the condition.
Foods for healthy eyes
In addition to fatty fish, there is growing evidence that fresh fruits and dark green, leafy vegetables — foods rich in vitamins C and E, selenium, and carotenoids (including beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin) — may delay or reduce the severity of AMD.
To reap the most health benefits, select the freshest, most colourful veggies and fruits you can find — think red, dark green, orange or yellow. Some top foods for your peepers include carrots, corn, kiwi, pumpkin, yellow squash, red grapes, tomatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens and green peas. (See 10 everyday superfoods for more tasty ideas.)
Nuts are another source of omega-3 fatty acids — and they also contain copper, which it thought to play a role in preventing age-related eye diseases.
Super healthy smoothie: For a tasty, ultra-nutritious smoothie, blend together a handful each of kale and spinach, one sliced banana, one mango (fresh or frozen), one pear, two or three dates (for sweetness), 2 T of flaxseeds and 1 cup of water.
Foods to avoid
A high-fat, high-cholesterol diet is not only bad for your heart, but it can lead to fatty plaque deposits in the macular vessels — which can hamper blood flow and increase the risk of AMD.
Experts also recommend making other healthy lifestyle choices to help prevent AMD:
– Smoking. If you smoke, quit. Studies have shown that people who smoke may be 3-4 times more likely to have AMD.
– Exercise. Not only can physical activity reduce risk for AMD, but it may also slow progression of the disease.
– Watch your numbers. This includes controlling your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
– Adequate protection. Protect your eyes and be sure to wear sunglasses, especially in strong sunlight. (Not sure which pair to pick? See our tips for choosing the right sunglasses.)
ON THE WEB
For more information on AMD check out the following resources: