May is Healthy Vision Month
The two most common types of eye diseases causing vision loss are cataracts and age related macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, and affects approximately 11 million people in the U.S. alone. The removal of cataracts is the most common surgical procedure in the U.S.
The prevalence of these two diseases has resulted in a lot of research into what causes them, and what we can do to prevent or delay their onset. Proper nutrition is one of the ways in which we can fight these diseases.
Nutrition and Macular Degeneration
The National Eye Institute conducted a large clinical trial to determine if antioxidants were helpful in preventing or slowing the progression of macular degeneration. This was called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, or AREDS. AREDS showed that the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration was reduced in patients who had the disease, and that vision loss was reduced in people who were taking the antioxidants studied. These antioxidants were:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
*beta-carotene has been found to increase lung cancer risk in smokers
Nutrition and Cataracts
There have been multiple studies on antioxidant vitamins and cataract progression recently. A number of these studies have shown a reduced risk for and/or slower progression of cataracts when using antioxidant supplementation. The most commonly studied antioxidants are Vitamin C and E.
Nutrition and Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is another disease that affects a large part of the population. It is estimated that over 4.5 million people over the age of 50 are affected by dry eye syndrome. Currently there are studies investigating the role of omega-3 supplementation in treating and preventing dry eye syndrome. Larger studies are needed, but from initial research, it appears that omega-3 supplementation can greatly improve the symptoms of dry eye sufferers. Omega-3 is also beneficial to cardiovascular health.
The National Cancer Institute and the Department of Agriculture recommend five servings of fruits and vegetables and two servings of nuts and seeds a day. This can provide you with the recommended daily values of Vitamin C and E, however, levels that are associated with actual health benefits are higher. These levels are 250mg of Vitamin C and 100 IU of Vitamin E. Omega-3 is naturally found in many types of fish and in flax seed oil. Getting adequate amounts from food alone may be difficult however, and many health care professionals recommend 1000mg twice daily supplementation.
For any further questions on the role of nutrition in eye health, come in and see us at Family EyeCare Center, or give us a call at 913 – 682 – 2929.