Healthy Food and Habits for a Lifetime of Good Eyesight
Having a strong, healthy body is important so that we can remain active and happy well into our golden years. It is equally important to have strong, healthy eyes so that we can see what is going on during those active, golden years. After the age of 50, the incidence of certain eye diseases and conditions starts increasing and typically by the age of 80 the majority of Americans have had or will soon have cataract surgery. Preventing, alleviating and reversing some of the most common eye problems can start with just a few minor adjustments in diet and lifestyle and the right nutritional supplement for eye health. While there is no one perfect solution that works for everybody, there are plenty of options to consider.
A healthy diet
A good diet is essential for good health, and there are a number of vital nutrients that keep our eyes strong and healthy and our vision clear and bright. If you are lacking some of these ingredients you may be putting yourself at increased risk for eye diseases like macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
An eye-healthy diet is heavy on the fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low fat or fat free milk and milk products. It should also include sources of protein such as lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, and nuts, and be low in cholesterol, saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugar.
Even if you have not stopped smoking because of all of the other warnings, including increased risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke, maybe you'll consider quitting to save your vision. Smoking is also a major risk factor for a number of eye conditions, including serious ones which could rob you of your sight completely.
Alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum as well; not only does it increase your risk of cataracts and other eye conditions, it also decrease your body’s ability to absorb many vitamins and minerals and depletes those that you already have on board.
You should also be vigilant about wearing sunglasses whenever you are outdoors, even on cloudy days. Your risk of developing cataracts shoots up about 60% when exposed to excessive ultraviolet light.
Supplements for sight
The three major antioxidant vitamins A, C and E should be included in any supplement that you take. (Smokers should not take supplements with high levels certain vitamins, including vitamin A, because it increases the risk of developing lung cancer. If you smoke, consult your doctor before starting a supplement regimen.) In addition, zinc, copper lutein, zeanthin and omega 3 essential fatty acids should be included in the formula you select. Other vitamins necessary for eye health are Vitamin B complex including folic acid, biotin and choline, Vitamin D and bioflavonoid. Phytochemical extracts from sources such as gingko biloba and bilberry are also important to consider.
Your eye doctor may have a preferred supplement type that he or she likes to suggest for patients. Make sure that you have thoroughly discussed your health history and needs because some medications may interfere with some supplements. Four that may be suggested to you include:
- ICaps: Alcon Inc.
- Ocuvite: Bausch and Lomb
- Oculaire: Biosyntrx Inc.
- MacuTriton: Advanced Vision Research Inc.
Some general safety rules for supplements
Before you take any new supplement or medication, you should take a quick inventory of how you feel. Any potential side effects should be compared with your before and after health assessment. In addition always keep the following tips in mind:
- Always check the expiration date on the label. If you cannot find the date or it is encoded and you cannot read it, you should not take the supplement until you can confirm the date.
- Always check the seal on the box and the bottle before you take any supplement or medication.
- Capsules may be easier to swallow for many people and may cause fewer problems with upset stomach. Make sure that you read the label for instructions because some foods and supplements will not mix well with each other.
- Check for quality ingredients that are easily and readily absorbed. For instance, the natural form of Vitamin E is easier for the body to absorb and use than synthetic versions.
- Look for supplements with no fillers.
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