Improve Your Retina and Macula Health with Foods and Vitamins

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Experts disagree on which nutrients can prevent eye disease or reduce vision loss, and there are many studies being conducted to help us learn more about the relationship between vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and eye health. They do agree, though, that the same things that are good for your body are good for your eyes: a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, drinking at least six glasses of water a day, regular exercise, and avoidance of cigarette smoke.

Much of the research that has already been conducted points to the benefits of vitamins and antioxidants, specifically beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese and lutein. Improve Your Retina and Macula Health with Foods and VitaminsThe National Eye Institute's recent Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that about one-fifth of patients with advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) enjoyed a decreased risk of vision loss after taking high levels of zinc and antioxidants. The study did not find a correlation between these nutrients and the prevention or amelioration of cataracts, but others are more optimistic and recommend multivitamins as preventative measures for cataracts, dry eye and glaucoma.

Lutein is found in the macula, but it is not produced by the body. It can be found naturally in high concentrations in dark green and leafy vegetables, including spinach, collard and mustard greens, chicory, escarole, kale, lettuce, Swiss chard and turnip greens. Eating five or more servings per week (at least ½-cup per serving, cooked or raw) of these vegetables may reduce the risk or slow the progression of AMD. Patients taking the anticoagulant medication Coumadin should consult their doctors before increasing the amount of leafy greens they eat.

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