Since February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Awareness Month, it’s a great opportunity to learn about preserving your vision-arguably one of our most valuable human assets. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of visual impairment in the U.S. In fact, approximately 1.8 million Americans have advanced AMD, and another 7.3 million people are at substantial risk for vision loss. The government estimates that by 2020, 2.9 million people will have advanced AMD.1
Now for some good news. Did you know that one particular antioxidant has repeatedly been shown to protect against AMD and cataracts–a major cause of blindness in the U.S.? It’s lutein, a naturally occurring carotenoid which concentrates in a section of the eye called the macula, forming macular pigment. Since lutein is not manufactured in the body, you must obtain it through food or supplements.
An impressive array of studies indicate that lutein and zeaxanthin–another carotenoid–protect against the development of AMD in part by increasing the density of the macular pigment.2,3,4 Additionally, these carotenoids filter out the damaging components of sunlight, protecting the eyes against radiation damage. The macular pigment they comprise has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.5,6
Food sources of lutein include dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale and broccoli. For example, raw broccoli contains about 2 mg of lutein per cup. To reduce the risk of cataracts and AMD, nutrition experts recommend at least 6 mg of lutein daily, and 10 mg per day of lutein was shown to be effective for symptoms associated with AMD.7. If you don’t consistently eat 3 to 5 cups of these dark greens daily, lutein supplementation is your best bet. Good vision is wealth beyond measure. Arm yourself nutritionally to protect this precious asset-for life.
2 Bull Soc Belge Ophtalmol. 2006;(301):15-22
3 Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008 Sep;49(9):3864-9. Epub 2008 Apr 30
4 Arch Biochem Biophys. 2004 Oct 15;430(2):163-9
5 Klin Monbl Augenheilkd. 2010 Aug 25. [Epub ahead of print]
6 J Fr Ophtalmol. 2010 Dec;33(10):749-57. Epub 2010 Nov 18
7 Optometry. 2004 Apr;75(4):216-30