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The Relationship between Nutrition and Eye Health

Last week, as part of Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness month, we shared some information about a group of eye problems affecting those with diabetes. These problems include, diabetic retinopathy – the leading cause of blindness in American adults – as well as glaucoma and cataracts. This week, we wanted to continue the conversation about eye disease awareness and focus on the direct relationship between nutrition and eye health.

Drs. Barbara Pelletier and Laurie Capogna are optometrists and authors of Eyefoods: A Food Plan for Healthy Eyes. In a recently published article, “A Closer Look at the Relationship between Diet and Eye Health,” Pelletier and Capogna share how their daily interactions with patients revealed a distinct lack of knowledge among the public about the relationship between diet and vision health.

In the article they outline the most important things to do for your eyes from a nutritional standpoint:

  • Eat leafy greens, such as spinach or kale. These are a key component in preventing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  • Eat cold-water fish four times per week, including Alaskan salmon, mackerel or rainbow trout.
  • Eat orange peppers which are high in zeaxanthin, a key antioxidant for maintaining healthy vision.
  • Eat eggs, including the yolk to get servings of lutein, another important antioxidant.
  • Avoid high glycemic index and load foods like refined grains and sugars, which are linked to diabetes and AMD.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following for maintaining a healthy eating plan:

  • Eat meals and snacks regularly
  • Eat the same amount of food at each meal or snack as best you can
  • Choose healthful foods to support a healthy heart and weight

Getting daily servings of the nutrients stated above, zeaxanthin and lutein, as well as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C and E not only protect, but enhance your vision. These can be found in foods like, carrots, grapefruit, Brussels sprouts, oranges, green peppers, almonds, whole grains and lean meats. Nutrition plays a key role in the prevention of diseases like diabetes and AMD.

At Industries for the Blind, we are always encouraging staff to maintain a healthy diet and to exercise. Nearly 30 employees participate in weekly Weight Watcher meetings where they learn how to maintain healthy eating habits, stay fit and encourage one another on the journey. For those that don’t participate in the program, we try to make lighter, healthier food options available for company gatherings. Our blog, “Healthy Employees, Happy Employees” shares more about the initiatives and programs we have in place to support our employees efforts to be healthy and active.

As you start planning out holiday menus, make sure to incorporate some of these foods mentioned above to keep your family’s eyes healthy and strong.


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