Healthy Diet, Healthy Eyes

Macular degeneration is a condition of the eyes that leaves sufferers with only limited sight. Also known as AMD for age-related macular degeneration, it affects over 30 million people worldwide, and is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50.

You might not think nutrition has anything to do with the eyes, but it does. Data from the largest study of eye health ever done- the AREDS study (for Age-Related Eye Disease Study) --has revealed that intake of the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may all play a protective role. So does eating fish, with its high omega-3 content.

Harvard scientists analyzed data from the original AREDS study to see if there were any links between inflammation and AMD. There were --higher levels of vitamin C and lutein/zeaxanthin in the blood, and higher fish intake was associated with lower markers of inflammation. Among other things, smoking and a higher BMI (a measure of how overweight you are) increased the risk for inflammation. (Inflammation is also a component of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s).

“Sick eyes occur in sick bodies”, wrote researcher Dr. Joanna Seddon in the Journal Nutrition. The latest Harvard study adds to a growing body of data that shows the important benefits of antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals.