The most common cause of blindness is Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), and nutrition can have a big impact on your risk. Research has uncovered a few super nutrients for eye health, but what are they?
The biggest threat to your vision is actually just normal damage from light, which enters your eye and causes oxidative stress and destroys the tissue slowly over many years. The good news is that nutrients from your diet prevent this damage and protect your vision.
The problem is that our diets are often lacking the nutrients our eyes need, and the cumulative damage over our life can result in vision loss. Here are the top nutrients essential for eye health:
The largest study by far is The Age-Related Eye Disease study (AREDS), in which a combination of the antioxidant nutrients vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, and zinc or copper have been tested and shown to clearly slow progression of AMD in people who have it already. These nutrients are one of the most important to consider if you are at risk of AMD.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
A second study, the AREDS-2, has shown that lutein and zeaxanthin are also effective and may be better than beta-carotene. Other studies have also found that increasing your intake of lutein and zeaxanthin through food (green leafy vegetables and goji berries are some of the best) or supplements is beneficial and the way they work is cool; they concentrate in your macula and filter blue-light.
Omega 3 fatty acids, especially those from fish are also starting to be seriously studied as nutrients for preserving visual health. People who eat more fish or omega 3 are much less likely to develop AMD and because of this a number of large studies looking at benefit of omega 3 supplements are currently underway. So we don't know for sure yet, but there is no harm and only a benefit to increasing your omega 3 intake.