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You Can Prevent Eye Disease

You Can Prevent Eye Disease

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, a civil rights anthem from the 1950s recorded by everyone from Pete Seeger to Bruce Springsteen, calls for folks to pay attention to their goals and to have faith they can win the fight.

Well, for the past decade ophthalmologists have been telling folks at high-risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to keep their eyes on another prize—preserving their vision by taking supplements of lutein (10mg) and zeaxanthin (2mg) (as well as DHA-omega-3, zinc, copper, vitamin C and E).   

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, vitamin-like pigments, that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers and are thought to neutralize light-induced eye damage. (They’re also the reason eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps keep you young!)

Carotenoids’ red, orange, green and yellow colors are found in tomatoes, carrots, apricots and dark leafy greens like kale. You can also get them by taking supplements (Dr. Mike takes DHA-omega-3 combined with lutein and zeaxanthin—his eye doc found his retina needed them).

But be careful of supplements. Folks without any risk for, or indication of, AMD sometimes take lutein and zeaxanthin in amounts greater than what’s recommended for at-risk folks. And overdoing it, say researchers in the journal Ophthalmology, can trigger crystal deposits in the retina’s macular region (crystalline maculopathy) that can interfere with visual acuity. Don’t take more than minimal supplements unless your eye doc says to and keep a sharp eye out for a colorful variety of 5 to 9 servings of fruits and veggies daily.

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