| Thu, Aug 13, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Nutrition and Eye Health Go Hand-in-Hand

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

macular degenerationDid you know that eating the right foods may help reduce the risk of eye diseases like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts? That’s because certain foods contain large amounts of the nutrients essential to eye health. These nutrients include:

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are both carotenoid compounds found in colorful fruits and vegetables. These compounds help protect cells from damage and reduce the risk of eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Foods Rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin:

  • Leafy greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard mustard and collard greens
  • Orange sweet bell peppers
  • Eggs

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C may lower the risk of getting cataracts and may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

Foods Rich in Vitamin C:

  • Yellow, red, orange and green sweet bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (kale)
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberries

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that may protect cells of the eyes from damage caused by free radicals. In addition to Vitamin E, many of the orange-colored food choices below also contain vitamin A, which helps boost night vision. Plus, they contain a carotene that helps lower the risk of cataracts.

Foods Rich in Vitamin E:

  • Walnuts
  • Fortified cereal
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Carrots

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fats are necessary for a healthy body — and the eyes. Omega-3 fatty acids, like DHA and EPA, are important for visual development and retinal function. According to Jennifer Nelson, AARP Bulletin at AARP.org, DHA is the primary omega-3 fatty acid found in certain cold water fish like salmon and sardines. It’s a nutrient that concentrates in the retina and may prevent plaque, which causes macular degeneration.1 Certain nuts, in small amounts, can be converted to EPA, which is another omega-3 fatty acid used by the eye.

Foods Rich in Omega-3:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Albacore tuna
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios

Other foods good for the eyes include blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and grapes. They can help lower a person’s blood pressure, which is a risk factor for macular degeneration. Blueberries and blackberries also contain anthocyanins, which can help fight inflammation and improve blood flow that may help prevent blockages to the arteries that feed oxygen to the retina.1

Watch this video for more information on Eating for Eye Health.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


10 Super Foods to Protect Vision: AARP Bulletin, AARP.org

Adding Powerful Antioxidants to Your Diet Can Improve Your Eye Health: American Optometric Association

Medicare & You: Get the official U.S. government Medicare handbook.


1 10 Super Foods to Protect Vision, by Jennifer Nelson, AARP Bulletin, AARP.org, January 21, 2011


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