We all know that “20/20” vision is the ultimate symbol of clear vision. But regardless of one’s vision at the moment, it can diminish over time. Between now and the year 2020, more and more people will experience some extent of vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration and other sight-robbing diseases.
How can we stop the slide? A lot of it has to do with what you decide to put on your plate, and in your glass.
U.S. scientists at the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research are finding that healthy eating could reduce not only healthcare costs, but also the decline of quality of life due to these diseases. The laboratory is part of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.
The “macula” is the 3-millimeter-wide yellow spot near the center of the retina responsible for the central field of vision.
One study showed that people who eat a diet high in vision-protecting nutrients and complex carbohydrates did help shield their eyes from macular degeneration. The complex carb idea runs alongside the low-glycemic-index idea. A food’s glycemic index is an indicator of how fast the carbohydrates it contains will spike blood sugar levels.
In the study, researchers analyzed the diets and other information from more than 4,000 men and women, aged 55 to 80. They were enrolled in a long-term Age-Related Eye Disease Study. Researchers ranked intake of each of several nutrients consumed during that long-term study, and then calculated how much dietary effect they had on the risk of macular degeneration.
Now we get to the sweet part. Along with a diet full of complex carbs, here are the nutrients found to be most protective against vision loss:
— Vitamin C
— Vitamin E
— Lutein (a natural plant chemical that turns fruits and vegetables yellow and green)
— Zeaxanthin (a flavonoid found in nearly all herbs, fruits and vegetables)
— Omega-3 fatty acids (in particular, DHA and EPA)
Both lutein and zeaxanthin are found in some measure in your retina. They are now very common supplements as well. This list shows that eating a lot of vegetables and fruits, as well as fatty fish, could protect your eyesight. When you eat grain products, make sure they are whole grain, so you get optimal levels of complex carbs.