Diet & Nutrition

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are important nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, as well as other foods, such as eggs. Many studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and act as antioxidants in the eye, helping to protect them. Unfortunately, the human body does not synthesize the lutein and zeaxanthin it needs, which is the reason why green vegetables are essential to good nutrition. Most diets are low in lutein and zeaxanthin, which can be found in kale, spinach, corn, broccoli and eggs. Daily intake of lutein and zeaxanthin through diet, nutritional supplements, or fortified foods and beverages is important for the maintenance of good eye health.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Scientific evidence suggests vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts, and when taken in combination with other essential nutrients, can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.

Vitamin C is found almost exclusively in fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, grapefruit and limes. You may also get vitamin C through supplementation. However, always consult with a health care professional before beginning a supplementation regiment.

VITAMIN E

Vitamin E in its most biologically active form is a powerful antioxidant found in nuts, fortified cereals and sweet potatoes. It is thought to protect cells of the eyes from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals which break down healthy tissue.

Studies indicate that vitamin E reduces the progression of AMD and cataract formation in combination with other antioxidant vitamins. Vitamin E also plays a significant role in the immune system, the health of cell membranes, in DNA repair, and in other metabolic processes. The human body does not synthesize the vitamin E it needs, which is the reason nuts, salad and vegetable oils are essential to good nutrition. Daily intake of vitamin E through diet, nutritional supplements, or fortified foods and beverages is important for the maintenance of good eye health.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

Fats are a necessary part of the human diet. They maintain the integrity of the nervous system, fuel cells and boost the immune system. Two omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be important for proper visual development and retinal function.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is found in the highest concentration in the retina, suggesting it has an important functional role. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is used in DHA biosynthesis. Studies in pre-term and full-term infants have suggested that a dietary supply of omega-3 fatty acids may be essential for optimal visual development. A number of studies have shown that, in animals, dietary deprivation of DHA results in visual impairment and retinal degradation. Dry eye syndrome also has been linked to omega-3 deficiency. Additionally, low levels of DHA and EPA have also been associated with eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration.

EPA and DHA are concentrated in fatty fish and marine mammals. For individuals who choose not to consume fish, vegetarian DHA is commercially manufactured from microalgae. Animals can convert very small amounts of DHA through consumption of α-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants, animals, and milk.

ZINC

Zinc is an essential trace mineral or ‘helper molecule.’ It plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, mostly in the retina and choroid, the vascular tissue layer lying under the retina.

Zinc is recommended for individuals diagnosed as being at high-risk for age-related macular degeneration or already experiencing the early stages of AMD. The human body does not synthesize the zinc it needs, which is the reason why red meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, wheat germ, mixed nuts, black-eyed peas, tofu, and baked beans are essential to good nutrition. Daily intake of zinc through diet, nutritional supplements, or fortified foods and beverages is important for the maintenance of good eye health.