Keep Your EYES on Nutrition
Causes of blindness in older adults include macular degeneration, cataracts and also retinopathy as a result of uncontrolled diabetes. Retinopathy can be prevented by taking control of your diabetes and keeping the levels of sugar in your blood at a normal range. If you have diabetes, it is important to limit your intake of foods such as grains, starches and sugars, to check your blood sugar levels regularly and to talk to your doctor about your diabetes.
Whether or not you have diabetes, healthy foods can help to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. It is a good idea to stay away from saturated fats found in fried foods, fatty meats, and junk foods and instead to eat more omega-3 fatty acids which are found in high quantities in the eye. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, walnuts, flax seed, and canola oil.
Consuming foods with zinc and antioxidants are another great way to take care of your eyes. Zinc is needed to maintain the function of the eye and you can make sure you are consuming enough zinc by eating lean meats, seafood, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Antioxidants fight against cell damage in the body, including the eye, and are found in dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, and brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as peas, broccoli, carrots, and squash. The more vegetables and fruits you eat, the better, so be sure to eat plenty every day!
Good vision and healthy eyes are closely related to healthy eating, so keep these tips in mind when you are making your food choices!
Helpful Handout: Eye Health and Nutrition
Guest Blogger: Laura Joseph
Tan J, Wang JJ, Flood V, Rochtchina E, Smith W, Mitchell P. Dietary antioxidants and the long-term incidence of age-related macular degeneration: The Blue Mountains Study. Ophthalmology. 2007:115(2);334-341.
Nutritional factors in the development of age-related eye disease. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2003:27;S5.
Age-Related Eye Disease Study. National Eye Institute, U.S. National Institutes of Health.