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EYE PROBLEMS

FOODS THAT HARM

  • Red meat, butter, and other foods with saturated fats

    FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Red pepper
  • Dark leafy greens like kale or collard greens
  • Fish

    WHO’S AFFECTED

  • People age 50 and older
  • Smokers
  • People with a family history of eye problems
  • People with diabetes
  • Sun worshippers
    While it may seem like deteriorating vision is an inevitable part of aging, eating an antioxidant-rich diet can prevent or combat many eye problems
    Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is one of the most common causes of blindness in seniors
    It entails a gradual, painless deterioration of the macula, the tissue in the central portion of the retina
    The first symptom is usually blurring of central vision but eventually side vision can also become limited
    Cataracts develop when the lens, the transparent membrane that allows light to enter the eye, yellows
    This hinders the passage of light rays, making your vision hazy, cloudy, or blurry
    It’s like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window
    Cataracts can develop in one or both eyes, and most are the result of getting older
    During middle age, however, cataracts are often small and don’t impair vision
    As they grow, your ability to see things clearly diminishes and reading and driving, especially at night, become more difficult
    If untreated, the lens may become completely opaque, resulting in blindness

    QUICK TIP:

    Start your day with fruit Whether your breakfast staple is eggs, cereal, or pancakes, add a vision-saving burst of antioxidants to your morning meal with a glass of orange or tomato juice, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, or cantaloupe

    Nutrition Connection

    Choose antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits
    While carrots are good for your eyes, you’ll get more peeper-protecting antioxidant vitamins such as A, C and E, lutein, and zeaxanthin from dark leafy greens, corn, and red pepper
    Maintain a healthy weight
    Carrying around too many pounds may increase your risk for cataracts
    Eat a healthy diet, watch your calorie intake, and exercise to lose weight and keep the pounds off
    Take a multivitamin every day
    A major study suggested that if every American at risk for ARMD took daily supplements of antioxidant vitamins and zinc, more than 300,000 people could avoid the associated vision loss over the next five years
    Other studies found that women who took vitamin C supplements for at least 10 years were 77% less likely to show initial signs of cataracts than those who took no supplemental C
    Eat fish at least twice a week
    A study from Australia involving more than 3,500 older adults found that eating fish just one to three times per month appeared to protect them against ARMD
    Cut back on saturated fats
    Research shows that a diet high in saturated fats, including foods (such as fatty red meat, butter, and cheese) increases the risk of ARMD
    Scientists theorize that saturated fats may clog the arteries in the retina in the same way that they contribute to atherosclerosis in larger blood vessels

    Beyond the Diet

    Shade your eyes
    Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat or cap to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays, which may contribute to the development of age-related eye problems
    Stay slim and active
    Being severely overweight may cause these diseases to progress more rapidly
    You can reduce your risk of ARMD by 54% if you are active (even walking or gardening) 1 to 2 hours a day
    Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol low
    High blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your risk of developing ARMD
    Quit smoking
    If you don’t, your chances of developing cataracts increase