Foods for Eye Health

| 10/16/2012 3:45:00 PM

With the baby boomer generation aging, concern over eye health is becoming more mainstream. In the United States, about 1.75 million Americans have age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of blindness in older adults—and another 7.3 million are at risk for the disease, according to the American Optometric Association. No matter your age, it’s always good to consider your eye health. One of the best ways to ensure your chances at healthy vision in your later years is through a balanced diet focused on a select group of nutrients. Although supplements can be an easy way to obtain these nutrients, sourcing them from food is usually best.

Trout and other fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, consumption of which can ward of age-related macular degeneration and other eye problems.

Foods for Eye Health

Omega-3 fatty acids

A 2007 study on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on retinopathy—a disease of the eyes in which retinal blood vessels proliferate, spread and leak, causing blindness—found that increasing intake of omega-3s and decreasing intake of omega-6 fatty acids reduced symptoms that caused abnormal vessel growth and blindness. Retinopathy affects diabetics and some premature infants, and some forms of age-related macular degeneration show characteristics similar to retinopathy. A recent observational study at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine also found that older adults who consumed omega-3-rich seafood were less likely to have age-related macular degeneration.

Food sources of omega-3 fatty acids: Seafood tends to contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. To maximize your intake of omega-3s, choose wild-caught varieties such as salmon and trout, which contain more omega-3 than their farmed counterparts. Sardines, tuna, halibut and cod also contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. (Be sure to shop for fish using the Seafood Watch guide.) Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, walnuts, olive oil and beans. For more on omega-3s, read "6 Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids."