Macular degeneration (MD) is an eye condition typically associated with old age. People with MD lose their central vision, while their peripheral vision is spared. If you are at high risk for MD or are in the middle to late stages of the condition, there are dietary considerations you may want to implement.
Get Enough Vitamin D
Insufficient vitamin D has been linked with an increased risk of MD, especially in women. As a woman, vitamin D is important for other health concerns, such as the risk of osteoporosis and to better absorb calcium. You should have periodic blood work by your primary care doctor to check your vitamin D levels. In some cases, intake of vitamin D through dietary sources or supplements may not be enough.
Dairy products, which are often fortified with vitamin D, are ideal dietary sources. If you are lactose intolerant or do not consume animal products, there are other vitamin D sources. Leafy greens, milk alternatives and fortified orange juice are other foods you can easily incorporate into your diet.
If you have mid to late stage MD, consider adding antioxidants into your diet. Although no treatment plan can help you restore lost vision, nutrients combined with medical treatments may slow the rate of vision loss. Studies by the National Eye Institute established guidelines to help people in the later stages of MD achieve an ideal ratio of nutrients. This mixture includes several nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Although these nutrients appeared to help a significant number of people reduce their likelihood of developing late-stage MD, care must be taken. If you are considering adding these nutrients to your diet, you must first talk with your doctors to determine if any medical conditions can be worsened by additional nutrient intake. For example, one of the suggested nutrients, beta-carotene, is not advised in larger quantities if you currently smoke or are a previous smoker. Instead, you can replace the beta-carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin.
Be Mindful Of Fat And Cholesterol
Dietary fat and cholesterol have a significant impact on your overall health and can indirectly increase your risk for MD. High cholesterol and hypertension increase the risk of MD. Keeping your dietary consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol low is potentially helpful whether you are high-risk or currently have MD. You should make the effort to include foods with monounsaturated fats. Another nutrient you should include is both a healthy fat and antioxidant, omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids may have protective benefits for your eyes.
Although MD is not preventable and lost vision cannot be reversed, research in the area of nutrition holds promise. If you are at an elevated risk of MD or are currently losing your vision to this eye condition, consider incorporating more eye-saving nutrients into your diet.
For more information, contact Malkani Retina Center or a similar location.