Protect Your Eyesight

Man at eye exam

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss for adults over age 50. The macula is part of the back of the eye that detects light. When the macula breaks down, central vision becomes blurry. This affects the ability to see fine details.

Early signs and symptoms of AMD:

  • Increased blurriness of smaller print
  • Fuzzy appearance of straight lines
  • Increased difficulty adapting to dim light
  • Difficulty recognizing faces

AMD can be prevented and/or treated. To help lower your risk of AMD, keep the following in mind:

  • Wear sunglasses to prevent UV damage.
  • Choose lutein-rich foods. Lutein maintains eye health. The body does not make lutein, so it needs to come from the diet. Lutein-rich foods include egg yolks, dark green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, and fruits such as kiwi and grapes. Check out your local farmers market, go.iastate.edu/E16ZAI, for lutein-rich produce.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can advance AMD damage. If you are ready to quit, call the tobacco hotline at 1-800-784-8669. The hotline is open 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Get regular eye exams. Early treatment is critical to prevent common eye diseases from causing permanent damage. EyeCare America, go.iastate.edu/HBIWUX, provides free eye exams for adults ages 65 years and older.

Sources:
Dry Macular Degeneration, go.iastate.edu/SX6LN1
Age-Related Macular Degeneration, go.iastate.edu/AJCG3Z

Keep an Eye on These Nutrients

dark, leafy greens

August is National Eye Exam Month—a good reminder for us to get an eye exam! A simple checkup can reduce your risk of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts. Researchers have linked these nutrients to improved vision and overall eye health: lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and omega-3 oils.

Dark, leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli, are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients protect eyes from sun damage. Eating them with olive oil helps our body absorb these nutrients.

Beta-carotene is found in deep orange and dark green vegetables, such as carrots, butternut squash, spinach, and collard greens. It helps prevent dry eyes and night blindness.

Vitamin C may help lower your risk of cataracts. Vitamin C is found in citrus foods, but also in sweet bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and cantaloupe.

Healthy fats such as omega-3s may be beneficial for eye health. Salmon and trout are good sources of omega-3s. Include fish in your meal plan two to three times each week.

Sources: Eat Right, eatright.org. American Optometric Association, www.aoa.org.

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