As you know, with age comes a growing number of health concerns.It’s not a bad thing to focus on taking care of your heart and brain… but you don’t want to overlook other important health concerns. Like your vision.
Every year hundreds of thousands of people go blind because of macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Fortunately, if you get the right nutrients, you can go a long way to preventing it.
But first, let’s take a closer look at this devastating disease.
The macula, located at the very center or your retina, is the portion of your eye that allows you to see minute details. When you have the most common form of AMD (called dry AMD), the delicate, light-gathering cells of the macula begin to break down. This process results in the gradual blurring and eventual loss of your central vision. As it gets worse, you may no longer be able to drive or read.
In some cases, especially if left untreated, dry AMD may progress into a more serious condition called wet AMD. With wet AMD, the onset of blindness happens more quickly.
The First Step Toward Protecting Your Eyes
Both forms of AMD are completely painless. Often people have no idea that they have AMD until an eye doctor diagnoses it.
Like most diseases, AMD is best caught and treated early. So, it’s important that you get a yearly eye exam. By visiting your doctor each year, you’ll be sure to catch any problems early when they are most responsive to treatment and before significant damage is done to your eyes.
But, a yearly eye exam isn’t all you can do to protect your vision.
Micronutrients That Keep Your Eyes Strong
The cells within your eyes are delicate. They also don’t replace themselves like other cells do—they are with you for a lifetime. This makes them especially vulnerable to free radical damage.
You can keep your eyes strong and healthy by making sure you get enough of the micronutrients your eyes depend on to fight free radical damage.
Your eyes need carotenoids for good health. These nutrients are precursors to vitamin A and they come in many different forms. Different carotenoids that may benefit your eyes and help prevent AMD are lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, alpha carotene, and beta carotene. Research shows that people who eat a diet rich in carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, have a lower risk of developing AMD.
The best way to ensure you get a wide range of carotenoids in good amounts is to eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Red fruits and vegetables are rich in lycopene and many other carotenoids. Orange and yellow produce contains lutein and many others. Dark green vegetables are a great source of both lutein and zeaxanthin. And dark blue and purple fruits and vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants that can protect your eyes from free radical damage.
Begin eating a more colorful diet today to protect your vision into the future.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.