Vision is one of your most precious senses and macular degeneration of the eye can rob you of your ability to see. Fortunately, some nutritional changes may help to prevent this problem.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of adult visual loss. It’s a disease that strikes insidiously with vague symptoms such as problems seeing in low light and then gradually develops into more severe symptoms such as visual haziness and difficulty recognizing faces. Fortunately, this is a disease that may be prevented in some cases by adopting a healthy diet that supplies the macula of the eye with the nutrition needed to stay healthy. Here’s how to eat to prevent macular degeneration of the eye.
There are lots of good reasons to prevent macular degeneration. No one wants to lose their eyesight and there’s evidence that this disease is rising in frequency which may be partially due to the fact that people are living longer and macular degeneration is most common in those over the age of sixty. The two main factors that can help to prevent macular degeneration are reducing direct exposure to ultraviolet light and eating a healthy diet. Cigarette smoking and certain types of medications can also increase the risk of this vision robbing disease.
How about nutrition? A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that supplementing with vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid reduced the risk of macular degeneration in women. Although it’s not clear why B vitamins appear to prevent macular degeneration, women who received the supplements in the study were also found to have lower homocysteine levels, an amino acid that’s been correlated with a higher incidence of heart disease. Researchers believe that lowering homocysteine levels through B vitamin supplements may also lower the risk of macular degeneration.
Don’t go out and buy B vitamin supplements just yet. Some recent studies have shown that supplementing with folic acid could increase the risk of certain types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer in men. One study showed that men who took a milligram of folic acid each day had double the risk of prostate cancer. The best way to prevent macular degeneration may be to eat a vitamin B rich diet so you can get these vitamins in natural, not supplemental, form.
In addition to the B vitamins, a diet high in two important carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, has also been shown to prevent macular degeneration. The best way to get these carotenoids is to eat leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, red peppers, and orange-colored fruits. These foods are an important part of an overall healthy diet. Although there’s no guarantee that they’ll prevent macular degeneration, they may help to lower the risk.
The bottom line? If you’re concerned about maintaining healthy vision, add more fresh produce to your grocery cart. It’ll not only protect your eyes, but improve your overall health as well.