Most people believe worsening eyesight is an inescapable part of getting older. It is true that age-related macular degeneration (AMD)a common eye disorderusually occurs in the last two decades of life and is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans over age 65. It is also true that close to a third of the adult population will exhibit retinal aging spots by the age of 30, which is an early sign of the disease. However, what the majority of aging Americans don’t realize is that each of us has the power to keep our eyes healthy and working well. By eating certain nutrient-rich foods and taking a few key supplements, one can not only preserve his or her sight but may actually be able to improve it.
A healthy lifestyle is the first step in maintaining eye health. Wearing sunglasses, limiting alcohol and saturated fat, not smoking, and eating a diet rich in carotenoids can reduce the risk of AMD. Eat dark-green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach at least 3 times a week, says Bill Sardi, author of Nutrition and the Eyes. These foods are chock full of lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, the carotenoids that are concentrated in the macula of the eye. Other good food sources of these nutrients are eggs, garlic, red onions, asparagus, blueberries, red grapes, cranberries, and red cabbage. In addition, Sardi recommends taking lutein and zeaxanthin derived from marigold flower petals as a daily food supplement. A study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) revealed that 6 mg per day reduced the risk of macular degeneration by 43 percent. Six to 12 milligrams a day is a good range, says Sardi.
Not surprisingly, the antioxidant power of vitamins C, E, and alpha-lipoic acid can also help to keep free radicals from damaging the delicate tissues of the eyes. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables that contain these free radical scavengers and taking antioxidant supplements can significantly influence the health of your eyesight.