The end of 2011 is quickly approaching, and I’m sure the same question is crossing everyone’s mind!
Did I schedule my annual eye exam?
Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly the burning question on your mind… but it SHOULD BE! The results of a September 2011 survey conducted by the Ocular Nutrition Society serve as a real eye opener! Although the population in focus were baby boomers, eye health should be a topic of concern regardless of your age. This is especially true considering that vision problems can arise at any age.
As you can see, there are many factors that influence the health of your eyes and quite a few we don’t know that much about. Some of these can be controlled, while others such as age, gender, race, and family history, can not be modified.
Listed below are some of the lesser known nutrients that play a vital role in eye health and a variety of foods that are good sources of these key nutrients:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A recent study suggests that consumption of foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may help support the proper function and health of your eyes as you age. Sources of Omega-3s include salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Due to possible mercury contamination, it is vital to obtain fish from a safe source.
Lutein: A powerful antioxidant that protects against age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lutein can be found in yellow peppers, mango, kale, spinach, chard and broccoli.
Zeaxanthin: Also an antioxidant needed to reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases. Zeaxanthin can be found in orange sweet peppers, broccoli, corn, lettuce (not iceberg), spinach, tangerines, oranges, and eggs.
Vitamin C: Helps to support the health of ocular blood vessels. Scientific evidence also suggests that Vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts and may slow the progression of AMD when taken in combination with other essential nutrients. Good sources of Vitamin C include a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits along with juices such as orange juice & grapefruit juice.
Vitamin E: An antioxidant that helps protect the eye from damaging free radicals. Sources of Vitamin E include wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and spinach.
Zinc: This mineral is essential for the production of melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Zinc can be found in oysters, cooked beef shanks, and fortified breakfast cereals.
Aside from nutrition, there are also various other lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of developing an age-related eye disease, such as:
Smoking: Individuals should be encouraged to quit smoking.
UV Exposure: Wear protective eye wear and a large brimmed hat when going outdoors to limit UV exposure.
Obesity: Individuals with a BMI greater than 30 are 2.5 times more likely to be affected by AMD.
High Blood Pressure: Like smoking, high blood pressure leads to a constriction, or narrowing, of the blood vessels that nourish the retina.
The Intern Behind the Plate,