How to Eat for Age-related Macular Degeneration

Unlike severe eye conditions related to diabetes and untreated glaucoma, AMD rarely leads to total blindness. But progressive AMD can stop you from activities like driving and reading.  Eating a healthy, well balanced diet, not only good for your heart, it can reduce your risk for progressive age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 55. An eye-healthy diet will help keep your macula healthy. In some situations, additional supplements may be appropriate. It’s important to speak to your doctor before changing your diet or taking any supplements.

Nutrition for age-related macular degeneration

The right nutrition can optimise macular health, so an eye-healthy diet is important in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It could also slow the progression of AMD.

Antioxidants Boost Vision

The link between a healthy diet and decreased vision loss from AMD seems to be the antioxidant properties of certain carotenoids, vitamins, and minerals. In the landmark Age-Related Eye Disease study (AREDS), the National Eye institute enrolled 5,000 people between the ages of 55 and 80 years to examine the effects of vitamin and mineral supplementation on age-related macular degeneration. The study found reduced disease progression in people with moderate AMD who took a daily supplement containing vitamin C (500 milligrams per day), vitamin E (400 international units (IU) per day), beta-carotene (15 milligrams per day or 25,000 IU), zinc (80 milligrams per day), and copper (2 milligrams per day).

Getting More Antioxidants In Your Diet

People not at high risk of AMD also can have some of the same potential eye benefits with a healthy diet:

Vitamin C – citrus fruits, berries, melons, broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes

Vitamin E – vegetable oils, almonds, pistachio nuts, peanuts, wheat germ, whole grains, turnip greens, and mango

Beta-carotene – carrot, sweet potatoes, spinach, dark leafy green vegetables, melon, cantaloupe, winter squash, and apricots

Zinc – chicken, pork, liver, eggs, wheat germ, fortified breakfast cereals, and seafood

Copper – liver, cocoa beans, nuts, whole grains, seafood, and dried fruits

Colorful Servings

In addition to vitamins and minerals, carotenoids have antioxidant properties that help keep eyes healthy. Carotenoids are unsaturated compounds of yellow to red pigments that are found in many fruits and vegetables, especially those with deep, rich colors. Lutein and zeaxanthin are especially important to preserving vision. These two carotenoids collect in the back of the eye, especially in and around the macula. The optimal dietary amount of each is unknown, but eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily should provide sufficient lutein and zeaxanthin.

Great sources include:

Lutein – spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens, dill, red peppers and guava

Zeaxanthin – orange sweet peppers, broccoli, corn, turnip greens, collard greens, dark leafy greens, tangerines, oranges, eggs and persimmon.

Dietary supplements If you’re not getting the nutrition you need from an eye healthy diet, dietary supplements may be appropriate. However, consult your doctor to discuss your options.

Posted on May 5, 2023