As we age, we find that we begin to loose vision among other things. There is, however, good news.

There’s evidence that nutrients can play an important role in treating and preventing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60 in the United States.

Macular degeneration affects the tissue in the eye that is responsible for central vision.

Some studies have shown that people who eat dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and collard greens have a lower risk of AMD. There is lutein in these foods. Lutein is concentrated in the retina and the macula of the eye. It is responsible for absorbing the blue part of the light spectrum, which ultimately protects the retina from light damage.

The National Institutes of Health’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that a combination of antioxidant vitamins plus zinc helped to slow the progression of intermediate macular degeneration to an advanced stage. The vitamin and mineral mix contains vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, zinc and copper. Consult with a physician about this vitamin mix.

Risk factors for AMD include age, gender (women are more likely than men to develop it), smoking, family history, cardiovascular disease, high blood cholesterol, light eye color, long-term exposure to sunlight, abdominal obesity and low levels of antioxidants in the blood.

Our eyes are important for every activity that we do. Controlling the risk factors for AMD that you are able to control, such as nutrition, can help you keep your vision for as long as possible.

Protect your eyes with these healthy habits:

• Eat a healthy diet high in green leafy vegetables, whole grains and fish.

• Don’t smoke. Nicotine limits the oxygen in your bloodstream and creates free radicals that can damage your eyes.

• Keep your blood pressure under control through diet and medication, if needed.

• Exercise and maintain a healthy weight.

• Limit your exposure to ultraviolet light. Wear sunglasses and a hat when outdoors.

• Get regular eye exams.

For more information, call you local county Extension Service Office.

Jennifer Russell is an area child and family development agent for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. You may contact her at 453-6803 or jtb20@ext.msstate.edu.

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