June is Vision Research Month and I’m eager to tell you how nutrition can help prevent cataracts!
Cataracts are in fact, very common. According to the Kellogg Eye Center, by the age of 65, over 90 percent of people have a cataract and half of the people between the ages of 75 and 85 have lost some vision due to a cataract.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging, but ultra-violet rays also contribute to the development of cataracts.
How are cataracts treated conventionally?
Treatment usually begins with protection—protective eyewear for example. Steroidal eye drops might help. If cataracts are causing visual impairment, surgery is often required. The most common surgery involves removing the lens of the eye and replacing it with an implant.
How can nutrition help prevent and treat cataracts?
There are protective enzymes in the eye that break down the damaged proteins that clump together to form cataracts. It is up to us to “feed” those enzymes so they can keep working for our benefit. These enzymes rely on antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and two important carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin. Let’s discuss foods that are high in each of these wonderful antioxidants…and fill your diet up with these powerhouses!
Foods high in Vitamin C: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red peppers, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, lemons, papaya, and oranges.
Foods high in Vitamin E: Wheat germ, spinach, broccoli, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds and fortified cereals.