You already know carrots are good for your eyesight. But new research out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham indicates many other foods — including fruits, vegetables, and fish — contain beneficial nutrients that can help you maintain 20-20 vision.
The UAB researchers noted studies by the the National Eye Institute (NEI) have shown that high levels of antioxidants and zinc — in addition to beta-carotene in carrots — can reduce the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness.
Semes added that while carrots have long been connected with improving vision, other foods and nutritional supplements can also keep your eyes healthy.
“Carrots are high in beta-carotene,” Semes said. “But beta-carotene alone is not going to be protective enough. There’s also a tangential relationship that a lack of vitamin A, a cousin of beta-carotene, is implicated in poor darkness adaptation.”
Semes, who serves on the American Optometric Association Health and Nutrition Committee, helped developed a list of specific foods and nutrients that have been found to be beneficial to eye health. Among them:
- Fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C, which can help minimize cataracts and AMD.
- Fleshy fish (tuna or salmon) and lean meats that contain fatty acids, which help prevent AMD.
- Red meats and whole grains containing zinc, which can reduce the risk of cataracts.
- Vegetable oils that contain vitamin E, which has been shown to slow progression of AM.
Cynthia Owsley, a professor and vice chair for clinical research in the Department of Ophthalmology, said dietary supplements are “not a cure for AMD,” but added that they can reduce the risks of vision loss from the disease.
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