Nutrition and Eye Health
July 9/Lab Law Weekly -- Studies have determined certain nutrients have positive effects on eye health. The research focus is on Vitamins C and E, found in high levels in the eye lens; lutein and zeaxanthin, which are concentrated in the retina; and beta-carotene (which converts to Vitamin A), another strong antioxidant.

Major studies, like the Blue Mountains Eye Study and the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, have shown positive results in preventing eye problems. The Blue Mountains study looked at intakes of Vitamin C, or a combination of antioxidants, in protecting eyes. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study linked diets rich in lutein and zeaxanthin with decreased prevalence of problems.

Vitamins C, E, A, lutein and zeaxanthin are strong antioxidants. They protect the eyes from free radicals which cause oxidative damage. Eventually, free radical damage can lead to a variety of health problems.

The assumption is that by strengthening the eye defenses with foods rich in these antioxidants one could help promote eye health.

There are numerous food sources for antioxidants, including citrus fruits for Vitamin C, nuts and seeds for Vitamin E, and carrots and sweet potatoes for beta-carotene. Foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin have yellow or green pigments, such as dark-green leafy vegetables and corn.

"No matter what your age, it's never too soon to start taking proactive measures in the area of nutrition to help maintain good eyesight for life," says Warren Harvard Low, O.D.

From the July 20, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition