Learn which healthy food, vitamins or supplements improve your vision and help in your prevention and treatment for macular degeneration.
What is macular degeneration
Age-related Macular Degeneration is a medical problem which in most cases affects older adults. It results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field – the so called macula – because of damage to the retina. It occurs in a dry and a wet form:
- in dry AMD the retinal pigment epithelial layer below the retina degenerates, causing vision loss due to the loss of photoreceptors in the central part of the eye. Surgery can’t cure the condition, however vitamin supplements with high doses of antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin slow the progression of or reverse the condition.
- in wet AMD the vision loss is due to abnormal blood vessel growth that start bleeding, leaking, and scarring and will cause irreversible damage to the photoreceptors.
AMD is the most common cause of vision loss in the United States. It is a progressive disease that affects the macula: the area of the eye that’s responsible for central vision.
In 2001, a large clinical trial – the Age-Related Eye Disease Study – reported that a supplement containing high doses of zinc and the antioxidants beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E slowed the progression of AMD by 25% in people who had advanced disease. Unfortunately, slowing down is far from being a cure.
One study suggests that eating a diet chock-full of these same nutrients might actually help prevent it.
Dutch investigators tracked the dietary intake, supplement use, and eye health of 4,170 people age 55 or over. They conducted the study for an average of eight years:
- at the start of the study, none of the subjects had AMD.
- by the end, 560 had developed the disease.
The researchers found that an above average food intake of beta carotene (remember your grandma telling you to eat carrots for your eyes…), vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc was associated with a 35% reduced risk of AMD. Subjects with lower-than-average intakes had a 20% higher risk. Antioxidants in supplements showed little effect (Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec 28,2005).
Macular degeneration diet or supplements
In order to treat or prevent AMD, it is recommended you eat a wide variety of foods rather than simply trying to hunt down the food rich in so called antioxidants. Why?
Because we don’t know enough yet about how antioxidants work to justify eating large amounts of particular foods. It might well be the case that the interaction of a variety of food in your overall diet is the most important strategy to stay healthy.
If your diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables, you’ll be getting plenty of beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin: which are all thought to help protect the eye.
Lutein can be found in many vegetables, especially dark green, leafy vegetables like raw kale, turnip greens, collard greens, spinach, celery, lettuce, green beans, corn and broccoli. Many of these vegetables also contain zeaxanthin, the other element found in the macula.
Other preventive vegetables include sweet potatoes, carrots and Brussels sprouts and zinc is also found in oysters, meats, and dairy products.
Don’t get an overly scientific approach to what you eat: make sure that your diet consist of variety and try to source ingredients as fresh and healthy as possible ingredients!
Although organic food is more expensive than "normal" food, at the end of the day:
- a lower bill for medications will be the benefit of eating healthy food!
- most important benefit : a good health and a longer healthy life!
Conclusion: treatment for macular degeneration can be improved by eating supplements or preferably following a varied diet containing lots of organically produced fruits and vegetables…Now doesn’t that sound like the paleo diet, or with added fresh dairy: the neo paleo diet?