A Foolproof Plan for Healthy Vision
Taking good care of your eyes is an important part of healthy aging. Over 30 million Americans over the age of 40 suffer to some degree from age-related vision loss, which is often due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition, which occurs as a result of degeneration in the retina, is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over 60.
Faltering eyesight can severely detract from your quality of life as you age. Vision loss can make it difficult or impossible to drive, read, work at a computer or watch T.V. In addition, visual impairment can cause increased susceptibility to injuries, especially for older people.
The good news is, we now know that there are many modifiable risk factors when it comes to preventing age-related vision loss. According to recent research published in the Archives of Opthamology, there are at least few things you can do now to keep your eyes healthy as you age:
1. Follow a low-glycemic diet.
Scientists at the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research (part of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston) have determined that a low-glycemic diet may help protect against age-related macular degeneration. A healthy low-glycemic diet excludes highly refined carbohydrates, which are likely to spike blood sugar, and emphasizes low-glycemic foods, such as most vegetables, low-sugar fruits, nuts, seeds and high-quality animal proteins. (You can learn more about the glycemic index at http://www.glycemicindex.com.)
2. Consume eye-protecting nutrients like vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3s.
The same researchers analyzed data from over 4,000 people between the ages of 55 and 80, who had participated in a long-term study known as the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). The researchers ranked intake of each of several nutrients consumed during the AREDS study, then calculated a compound score to gauge their combined effect on risk for age-related macular degeneration. Their findings indicate that vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, are the most protective, especially in combination with a low-glycemic diet.
3. Don’t smoke!
According to a study published in June issue of the Archives of Opthamology, smokers are 83% more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration than non-smokers. Researchers were able to directly correlate the number of years spent as a smoker and number of packs smoked with an increase in risk for AMD.
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Keeping your eyes healthy is vital if you want to ensure that you will enjoy a high quality of life as you age. And research shows that age-related vision loss is largely preventable with good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle! If you want to retain your ability to see clearly as you age, be sure that you are getting the nutritional support you need from nutrient-dense foods and eye-supporting supplements.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service (2010, July 4). Nutrition’s potential to save sight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 6, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/07/100701145537.htm
Klein R, et al “The prevalence of age-related macular degeneration and associated risk factors” Arch Ophthalmol 2010; 128: 750-58.