Since Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of low vision and blindness in Americans aged 60 years and over, the Berkeley Eye Center would like to remind everyone that February is National Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Awareness Month. There is currently no cure for AMD, so it’s important to educate the public about ways they can protect their vision from the effects of the disease.
In AMD, the thinning of the macula layer in the retina results in blurred or reduced vision. The damage happens slowly over time and can affect one or both eyes. Early detection through regular eye exams and maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes lots of exercises, not smoking, managing other medical conditions (such as heart disease or diabetes), and a well-balanced diet full of eye-healthy foods are key to preventing and managing the symptoms of AMD.
Foods for AMD: An Eye Healthy Diet
There are a growing number of studies that show eating a healthy diet may be one of the most effective ways to prevent or reduce the symptoms of AMD and other vision problems. Here’s a list of the nutrients thought to help prevent the progression of AMD and some of the foods they can be found in:
Antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, have been shown to lower the risk of developing advanced AMD by almost 25 percent. Oranges and other citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, and strawberries are just a few sources of vitamin C; carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, spinach, apricots, winter squash, spinach, and fruits are great sources of beta-carotene; and you can get your vitamin E fix from foods like broccoli, spinach, almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts.
Vitamin D is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory nutrient that may protect against AMD and other age-related vision loss. Whole milk, eggs, cereals, fatty fish (like cod, tuna, salmon, and halibut), and orange juice are just a few of the delicious sources of vitamin D.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are believed to play a role in the health of the retina’s photoreceptor cells. Good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include cold-water fish (such as salmon or sardines), walnuts, Brussel sprouts, spinach, yogurt, and eggs.
Zinc and Copper
Zinc is important for the production of melanin, a pigment that protects the eye. Cataracts, poor night vision, and other vision problems have been linked to zinc deficiency. Zinc is also thought to slow the progress of AMD as well. You can get plenty of zinc from eating (low fat) red meats (such as beef, pork, and lamb), whole grain cereals, whole-grain bread, oysters, poultry, beans, and certain dairy products.
Copper has also been shown to slow the progression of AMD. You can get the copper you need from eating dark leafy vegetables, nuts, eggs, seeds, and legumes.
Two carotenoids found in the macular region of the retina — lutein, and zeaxanthin — are believed to protect the eyes by filtering out harmful wavelengths of light. It’s hard for our bodies to produce the necessary amounts of these two carotenoids, so we can help by eating kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, egg yolks, and other foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin.
(NOTE: Remember to check with your doctor before making changes to your diet.)
What Not to Eat
Certain types of fat — vegetable, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as linoleic acid — commonly found in highly processed food such as margarine, store-bought cakes and cookies, potato chips, peanut butter, and French fries are thought to raise the risks of developing AMD.
Houston Age-Related Macular Degeneration Eye Doctors
In addition to a vision healthy diet, early diagnosis and treatment are vital to limiting the progression of AMD. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a comprehensive eye exam, give Berkeley Eye Center a call at 713-526-1600. Houstonians have been trusting their vision health with the Berkeley Eye Center for over 60 years. We have locations in Houston, Katy, Pearland, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, and other surrounding communities, so there’s sure to be a Berkeley Eye Center close to you!