Age-related macular degeneration affects the part of the eye responsible for central vision, leading to progressive visual loss and making every day tasks like reading, driving, recognizing faces, and doing detailed work difficult. You’re more likely to develop the disease if you have a family member with this condition, are a smoker, have light colored eyes, are older, are female, or have heart disease. The antioxidant nutrients vitamin C, beta-carotene, zinc, lutein, and vitamin E hold promise for halting the progression of early macular degeneration.
A healthy diet can be the most important factor in building, supporting, maintaining, and also improving vision. While there is no single diet that is best for everyone, experts agree that a healthy diet high in vegetables is essential for eye health. Choose to make every meal an opportunity for enjoying more vegetables (preferably organic). Steam, stir fry, or simply eat them raw.
In a perfect world, we would get all of our vitamins from food. However, modern farming practices and the depletion of nutrients in soil often results in fruit and vegetables having significantly less minerals and vitamins than they used to, when everything was ‘organic’. Foods labeled and sold as organic these days tend to have more vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and less of the harmful nitrates and other residues from pesticides.
However, not everyone has ready access to organic food, or the money to buy it for the whole family. Thus, vitamin supplements are a good option to help us get our missing nutrients.
Here is a list of the top 6 vitamins, herbs, and phytonutrients to help alleviate the problem of sore, dry eyes, and maintain good vision:
1. Bilberry - is a herb used for both gastrointestinal and eye health. The active ingredients are called anthocyanosides, which are a type of flavanoid. Anthocyanosides are antioxidants that help improve the flow of blood through the capillaries in eyes. They help eyes adjust quickly to changes in light, and improve sharpness of vision.
Bilberry has also been shown to be effective in stopping the progression of cataracts when taken with vitamin E. It’s also used to treat diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. It is best to drink bilberry tea or take bilberry in capsule form.
2. Vitamin A – Vitamin A is important for good night vision, and may play a role in preventing cataracts.
3. Grapeseed – Grapeseed is good for the peripheral circulation in our eyes. It also strengthens the capillaries.
4. Eyebright – Eyebright makes a great eye home remedy. Steep it in hot water to let the herb infuse, then remove the herb and cool the remaining liquid. You could put it in the freezer to cool it down quickly if you don’t have any infused eyebright on hand in the fridge. Once its cool, use it as an eye bath, or a compress. It’s great for sore eyes, and has an anti-inflammatory and soothing action.
5. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Research from Harvard Medical school has found that taking omega 3 oils reduces the chance of getting dry eyes. Try taking 3 to 6 grams of a good quality fish oil supplement daily. Studies showed that consuming more long chain omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a significantly lower risk of macular degeneration among people with a lower-than-average intake of linoleic acid (an omega-6 found primarily in nut and seed oils). Those who ate one to two servings of nuts each week lowered their macular degeneration risk by 35%. Marine phytoplankton is one of the best sources of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
6. Lutein – Lutein is one example of a type of plant nutrient known as carotenoids. Better known examples include beta carotene and alpha carotene. Carotenoids are responsible for giving fruit and vegetables their distinctive colors, and the brightness of a fruit or vegetable is a good indicator of how much carotenoids it has in it. Those with a rich color have a higher concentration.
Lutein, beta, and alpha carotene are converted by the body into vitamin A. And lutein is found in very high concentrations in the macula of the eye. Lutein is used to help prevent macular degeneration, which is a big problem for people over 40 years of age. Macular degeneration can lead to blindness. Lutein is thought to work as an antioxidant in this capacity.
Other solutions for dry eyes include soaking chamomile tea bags and placing them on both eyes when they are cool. Chamomile helps reduce redness and swelling around the eye. Iced milk can also be used on a compress for sore eyes. Soak cotton wool or gauze pads with very cold milk (the coolness helps narrow blood vessels), and the fat in milk is very soothing for dry skin.
Dry eyes has also been associated with prolonged use of contact lenses. Over time lenses can wear down the outermost layer of the cornea causing inadequate tear production. If you wear contacts, it’s important to get regular checkups to ensure your contacts are providing enough hydration to your eye. It’s also critical to replace your lenses on the schedule recommended by your optometrist.
Get plenty of dark, green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collards and chard in your body. Beyond dark greens, go for colored vegetables, including carrots (orange), squash (yellow), beets (red), and red cabbage (purple). Colors indicate phytonutrients, many of which are antioxidants and eye-specific nutrients capable of providing super nutrition for your eyes. Fruits can help vision, too. Select dark fruits that are high in antioxidants like blueberries and blackberries, as well as dried fruits like raisins and prunes.
Drink carrot juice and fresh organic vegetable juices:
You likely have heard that carrot juice is good for the eyes. Carrot juice works extremely well for this purpose, partly by providing large amounts of provitamin-A beta-carotene. Get a quality juicer and make at least 16 oz of juice every day. While you’re making carrot juice why not add some beets, parsley greens, spinach leaves, celery stalks, or cucumber pieces into the mix?
Fresh vegetable juices truly are the #1 way to improve vision. After my 5 day juice fast my vision improved so much that I was able to stop wearing glasses and used just reading glasses sometimes.
Superfoods for stronger vision:
For boosting core nutrition that supports excellent vision, the best foods are superfoods. Superfoods include goji berries, chlorella, spirulina, marine phytoplankton, chia seeds, and other foods. Superfoods provide greater quantities of nutrients than are typically found in foods. For example, marine phytoplankton provides a large amount of chlorophyll, but also offers essential fats, nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), and vitamins.