Age-Related Eye Disease Prevention

Older adult may face eye disease with agingAs people age, eye diseases and conditions that commonly occur include macular degeneration, cataracts, vitreous tears/retinal tears and detachments, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, dry eyes, and eye floaters.

The question arises as to whether eye disease is inevitable with age. Will all older adults eventually have a “glint” in their eyes after cataracts surgery? More than 50% of people aged 75+ have glaucoma, cataracts, or macular degeneration. Can aging adults do anything to prevent, manage or slow down eye diseases associated with aging?

A large body of research is accumulating that shows the effects of regular eye exercises, good nutrition, and targeted supplementation on preventing and/or managing eye conditions. For instance, peer-reviewed research has shown that the risk of getting macular degeneration can be significantly reduced by taking fish oil and lutein on a daily basis. Vigorous exercise may reduce the incidence of glaucoma. And the effects of antioxidants on preventing cataract and macular degeneration have been the subject of significant research.

With age, digestion efficiency can be compromised, making proper nutrition even more important. Certain medications can cause deficiencies or depletion of key nutrients. People in institutions such nursing homes may not get all the fresh fruits and vegetables they need. Eating for eye health includes ingesting a wide variety of fresh, leafy greens, cooked and uncooked vegetables in many colors, lean proteins, whole grains, fiber, fresh fruit, and nuts and seeds. Juicing is a flavorful and efficient way to help ensure an adequate intake of nutrients including enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.  A diet high in refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, cake and cookies), oils, fatty meats, and excessive sodium is a recipe for poor over-all health, including the health of the eyes. Vitamin supplements such as Dr. Grossman’s Advanced Eye & Vision Support Formula can help fill in nutritional gaps.

Fruits and Vegetables in the Diet Backed by Research

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most prevalent cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries. Researchers have shown that high dietary intake of beta carotene, vitamins C and E, and zinc may substantially reduce the risk of AMD.

Scientists at the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands investigated whether regular dietary intake of antioxidants is associated with a lower risk of incident AMD.

Participants in the study included 7983 inhabitants aged 55 years or older in a middle-class suburb of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. A baseline home interview and a series of examinations at the study center were conducted from 1990 until 2004. Food intake was assessed with a food questionnaire, and participants were evaluated for incident AMD (defined as soft distinct drusen with pigment alterations, indistinct or reticular drusen, geographic atrophy, or choroidal neovascularization). Incident AMD occurred in 560 participants after follow-up exams (conducted 8 years later, on average).

Study results showed that participants who consumed vitamin E and zinc were less likely to have AMD.

An above-median consumption of all 4 nutrients studied (beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc) was associated with a 35% reduced risk of AMD.

SOURCE: Dietary intake of antioxidants and risk of age-related macular degeneration, Leeuwen et al, JAMA, 2005 Dec 28;294 (24):3101-7.