A Vision of Health

eyeglassesGradual vision loss is part of the aging process, but it affects people of all ages. In fact, about 75 percent of all adult Americans use some sort of vision correction: 64 percent wear glasses; 11 percent wear contacts. On top of that, 14 percent use non-prescription glasses for reading.

Research has found that eating certain types of foods may actually help prevent vision problems. For example, vitamins C and E and the mineral zinc have been shown to help slow the progression of macular degeneration.

Eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin are believed to aid pigment density in the macula. These two carotenoids are found in kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and orange peppers.

Another good food for retinal health is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which exists in wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, flaxseed and walnuts. Alaskan salmon also contains astaxanthin, which offers protection from ultraviolet radiation. Some studies have claimed astaxanthin is an important nutrient that may help prevent blindness.

Although difficult to find, the bilberry (a close relative of the blueberry) contains high amounts of anthocyanins, which may help protect eyes during retinal inflammation. Black currants also contain this nutrient.

And finally, there is some evidence that the natural bright light of being outdoors may enhance vision health through (conservative) exposure to UVB rays, which generates the production of vitamin D.

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