Now that we are well into 2011, I thought that now would be a good time to address probably the most common resolution for the New Year – eating healthy and exercising. But let’s look beyond this “resolution” as a means to lose weight, let’s concentrate on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle consisting of good eating and vitamin supplementation as a means to protect and preserve the health of our eyes. After all, we do need to see ourselves in the mirror!
Research suggests that antioxidants (vitamins) may reduce our risk of eye disease such as cataracts and macular degeneration. For example, vitamin A protects against blindness, and vitamin C may play a role in preventing glaucoma. Other nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of dry eye. In addition, the following list of nutrients and vitamins have been found to promote and preserve healthy eyes and vision.
- Beta-carotene: may protect against night blindness and dry eyes, It is found in green leafy vegetables like kale as well as carrots and sweet potatoes.
- Lutein & Zeaxanthin: may prevent macular degeneration. The majority of foods that contain these vitamins are green leafy vegetables such as collards, spinach, kale, turnip greens, etc. Interestingly enough, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) has been re-vamped to include these compounds as a means to prevent macular degeneration, a condition that can affect the elderly and “rob” them of their central vision. Most multi-vitamins available on the market today contain these vitamins. Recent research suggests at least 10mg of the vitamins in total; however, there is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) at this time.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: these nutrients can be found in flax seed oil and fish oil commercially. Not only do they help prevent dry eyes and macular degeneration, omega-3 fatty acids have cardiovascular benefits. The American Heart Association recommends 1,000mg daily.
- Vitamin A: may protect against blindness. Found in beef or chicken liver, oil, eggs, etc.
- Vitamin C: may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Found in red or green sweet peppers, oranges, cantaloupes, etc.
- Vitamin D: may reduce macular degeneration. Found in milk, oily fish like salmon, sardines, etc.
- Vitamin E: when combined with Vitamin C and carotenoids it may reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration. It is commonly found in many varieties of nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Zinc: when used in conjunction with Vitamin A, zinc helps reduce the risk of night blindness. It is found in oysters, beef, and dark meat in turkey.
At Halpern Eye Care and Halpern Ophthalmology, our doctors promote a healthy lifestyle leading to healthy vision. Proper nutrition is key to promoting overall health, including the eyes. Current research does suggest that the appropriate intake of vitamins and minerals can prevent eye disease; however, there is little evidence suggesting that vitamins can be used to treat pre-existing eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Be sure to ask your eye doctor at your next visit about ways that you can promote healthy vision through eating properly and possibly supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals. After all, our slogan at Halpern is “Our Passion is Your Vision.”