As people age, many experience worsening vision. This is known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and it’s extremely common. In fact, it’s the leading cause of vision loss in people over 60 years of age. It happens when part of the retina, called the macula, wears down, and it doesn’t cause total blindness, but it can result in severe vision loss. Early symptoms include blurry vision, blind or dark spots in the center of your vision, differences in color perception, or lines appearing wavy. Age is the primary risk factor, but there are some preventive measures you can take to decrease your risk of getting AMD. Not smoking, exercising regularly, wearing sunglasses, and maintaining a healthy weight are all good ways to lower your risk. One of the biggest things you can do to help prevent or slow the progression of AMD, however, is to watch what you eat. There are certain foods that you should definitely limit in order to protect your eye health.
Interestingly, the same foods you’ve been told to avoid for overall health are the ones you’ll want to skip to preserve your vision health. These include:
- Fried foods
- Processed meats
- Processed foods that contain trans fats, like chips and cookies
- Sugary drinks and sweets
- High-fat dairy foods
- Soda and alcohol
- Refined carbohydrates, including pasta, white bread, and white rice
- Fried foods like fried chicken or French fries
- Fatty pork, beef and lamb
- Vegetable shortening, lard, margarine, and tropical oils
So, what kind of diet is good for preventing or delaying macular degeneration? In general, eat foods that contain nutrients like antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. The Mediterranean diet is a good example. Full of fruits, vegetables, seafood, and nuts, this type of diet limits processed foods and unhealthy fats. Here are some examples of foods one might eat on the Mediterranean diet, which also promote good eye health.
- Vegetables like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, peas, peppers, potato, spinach, sweet potato, summer squash, and winter squash
- Fruits, including apricots, avocado, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime, papaya, pumpkin, and strawberries
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, flaxseed, and chia seeds
- Legumes, including lentils, peas, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, peanuts, and pinto beans
- Whole grains, found in whole grain cereal, breads, and wraps, oats, bulgur, quinoa, farro, freekeh, sorghum, millet, teff, buckwheat, wheatberries, and wild rice
- Seafood, at least twice a week, which can be fish like flounder, halibut, haddock, tuna, salmon, sole, or sardines, or shellfish like crab, oysters, and shrimp
- Healthy fats, which include avocado oil, olive oil, safflower oil, wheat germ oil, flax oil
- Dairy in moderation, including eggs, yogurt, cheese, and milk
- Meats, sparingly, like chicken, turkey, or pork
- Herbs and spices, including basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme
Another important component of eye care that can help prevent or slow macular degeneration is regular eye exams. When you need an eye exam, trust Boulder Eye Surgeons to care for your eyes. Having served Boulder, Colorado and the surrounding area since 1997, Boulder Eye Surgeons utilizes state-of-the-art technology to provide comprehensive medical and surgical eye care. We’re committed to enhancing quality of life through exceptional patient care, and our doctors and staff members are second to none. Request an appointment with our community-oriented practice to learn how we work to understand your needs and exceed your expectations, call us at (303) 943-1483, or contact us through our website.