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.

Medically reviewed in August 2018.

more from this guide

How to Protect Your Eyes from Harmful UV Rays How to Protect Your Eyes from Harmful UV Rays

As every good vampire hunter knows (think Buffy), the sun’s rays are lethal to the undead, unless they wear a daylight ring made by witches (tha...

Read More
4 Steps to Better Eye Health 4 Steps to Better Eye Health

Your eyes add more depth to each daily experience. Simply put, they're one of your most prized possessions.

Read More
How Often Do I Need an Eye Exam As I Grow Older?
Presbyopia: Correcting Age-Related Vision Loss Presbyopia: Correcting Age-Related Vision Loss

Learn why the eyes lose the ability to focus on nearby objects as you age, and what you can do about it.

Read More