"Doc, are carrots good for my eyes?" And other info about nutrition

Not surprisingly, what we eat and put in our bodies can have a major impact on the health of our bodies. While we will all eventually get cataracts if we live long enough, research has shown that certain nutrients can delay their development and progression. Studies have also shown the benefits of certain nutrients in certain stages of macular degeneration. Also, people who suffer from Dry Eye can benefit from nutritional supplements.

Antioxidants are substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Antioxidants can be found in many foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Studies suggest that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will reduce the risk of several types of diseases, although it is unclear if this benefit is from the antioxidants or something else found in the fruits and vegetables. However, the following antioxidants have been linked to reduced risk of certain eye diseases:

Beta-carotene: When taken in combination with zinc and Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene may reduce the progression of macular degeneration. Beta-carotene is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and butternut squash.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Research such as the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of macular degeneration. These nutrients are found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and squash, as well as food such as eggs. They can also be found in supplements - ask your eye doctor for their recommendations.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D may also reduce the risk of macular degeneration. It is found in fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as well as milk. Vitamin D can also be obtained simply by being exposed to sunlight. UV radiation from the Sun stimulates production of Vitamin D in human skin.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 Fatty Acids are important nutrients that are critical for the normal production and functioning of cells, muscles, nerves, and organs. They are considered essential fatty acids that are necessary to our diet because our bodies cannot produce them. They can only be obtained from food or vitamin supplements. The best food sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids are cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and tuna. Several studies have found there may be numerous ocular benefits for Omega-3 Fatty Acids, including a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration and Dry Eye Syndrome.

Not all supplements are safe for everyone to use. Schedule an eye exam to discuss which supplements and dietary changes may be right for you!

References and to learn more:

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