According to a recent post by Andrew Weil, MD multiple studies have again reiterated the importance of a nutrition and healthy diet in reducing the risk of Macular Degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans. “Dr. Weil has been a real pioneer in integrative medicine”, according to Dr. John Henahan at Spectrum Eyecare in Peachtree City. “I have long worked to integrate nutrition counseling and judicious use of supplements to reduce the risk of eye disease and improve symptoms of various eye conditions”, continues Dr. Henahan.
“Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-funded Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research have found that the combination of a low-glycemic diet combined with vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids can help maintain quality of life and reduce health care costs due to sight-robbing eye diseases.”, reports Dr. Weil in his recent post. A low glycemic diet has many other health benefits (Learn more). Omega-3 fatty acids, especially those found in fish oil have recently been reported to reduce the risk of macular degeneration markedly. They also reduce dry eye symptoms in about 70% of patients.
Dr. Weil favors additional lifestyle and dietary changes to help reduce the risk of macular degeneration. These include smoking cessation, sunglasses, and a diet rich in Vitamins, C, E as well as lutein and zinc. According to Dr. Weil’s website, “Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits, melons, tomatoes, potatoes and broccoli. You can get vitamin E from soybeans, greens, fish, wheat germ, nuts and seeds.Dietary sources of zinc are legumes (peas, dried beans, garbanzos/chickpeas, black-eyed peas, lentils and soy products) and whole grains. The carotenoid pigment lutein is found naturally in spinach, kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce and peas. Other protective compounds are the red and purple pigments found in berries and other fruit. Eat berries, especially blueberries, often. You can also get these pigments into your diet with supplements of bilberry, grape seed extract or pine bark extract. My recommendations for daily vitamin E are to take 400-800 IU of natural mixed tocopherols, or at least 80 mg of natural mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. People under 40 should take 400 IUs a day; people over 40, 800 IUs.”
At Spectrum Eyecare, Dr. Henahan favors a preventive approach to macular degeneration. “You must act as soon as the earliest signs of macular pigment loss are apparent, which often occurs in the forties and fifties. If you wait until macular degeneration is apparent, then it is too late to prevent it. If your doctor is not looking carefully for signs of early macular pigment loss, called drusen, then you may be missing an opportunity to prevent this devestating condition.”, reports Dr. Henahan. “Look for health care professionals that want to partner with you to help you stay well, not wait until your eye is sick.”