When it comes to aging there are those obvious signs of the passage of time such as graying hair and wrinkles. When we talk about “getting old” they’re the things we tend to obsess about, and fixate on fixing too.
But other signs of aging, such as vision loss, can be far more subtle… at least at first. Perhaps it started with a slight blur of the street sign in the distance. Or maybe you suddenly realized you have to squint to focus on the menu in a restaurant. That’s when you realized your eyes are aging right along with the rest of you.
5 aging eyes solutions for better vision
But don’t give up your eagle eyes without a fight. It turns out you can help turn back the clock on your aging eyes by loading up on the right vision supporting nutrients.
1. Vitamin A:
Vitamin A, or beta carotene, is needed for overall eye health, but is absolutely vital for night vision. Driving at night always presents some visibility challenges, but as we age our pupils shrink and don’t dilate as much, and our cornea and lenses become less clear making light more scattered. As a result driving at night can get more perilous.
You can support your night vision by making sure you’re getting plenty of beta carotene rich foods in your diet. You’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your vision. It’s true because of their beta carotene content. Sweet potatoes, which we’re particularly fond of around here, are another vitamin A rich food. But any of the orange, red, or yellow vegetables will be loaded with the healthy beta carotene you need.
2. Vitamin C:
Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in folks over 40. And if you’re over 60 and your vision has become blurry or cloudy chances are you have this condition. Cataracts develop when proteins build up on the lenses of your eyes which keeps light from passing through them as it should.
To correct the problem a surgeon will remove your lens and replace it with a man-made version. But you may be able to head cataracts off at the pass. Experts say the powerful antioxidant vitamin C could help save your sight and keep you from needing surgery.
Several studies have found a link between C and a lower risk for developing the vision-robbing condition. In a long term study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, researchers found a diet high in vitamin C was linked to a 22 percent lower risk of developing cataracts, and a 33 percent lower risk of the disease getting worse if you already have it.
Foods that are high in vitamin C include red peppers, kale, oranges, broccoli, papaya and kiwi. Vitamin C is also available as a supplement.
3. B complex:
The B vitamins folic acid, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B12 and B6—known collectively as B complex—work hand in hand to keep your eyes healthy. Experts believe the B’s support healthy vision by warding off the inflammation that can contribute to vision problems, and researchers say they can play a role in reducing your risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma and more.
For example, in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition higher levels of B12 were linked to a significantly lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Volunteers in the study were twice as likely to develop AMD if they were deficient in folate and B12. And high homocysteine, which can be reduced with B12 and folic acid, was linked to an increase in AMD.
4. Vitamin D:
We spend far less time in the sun these days, and when we do venture out fear of skin cancer has many of us covering up with sunscreen, hats and long sleeves. As a result vitamin D deficiency is on the rise. In fact, some experts estimate up to 42 percent of American’s may now be running low on this vital vitamin, which may be putting us at risk for age-related macular degeneration.
Several studies have revealed a link between vitamin D deficiency and AMD. Be sure to get 15 minutes a day in the sun, without sunscreen, in order to keep your vitamin D levels high. And eat plenty of vitamin D rich foods including fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, cheese, beef liver and egg yolks.
5. Lutein and zeaxanthin:
Lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful antioxidants that help protect your eyes from harmful high energy light waves. Experts say healthy levels of these nutrients support better vision, and may help ward off issues with seeing in dim light (like when you have trouble seeing that menu clearly) as well as with glare.
Research has found a link between healthy lutein and zeaxanthin levels and a lower risk of age related eye issues. In one study the folks who ate the most foods high in zeaxanthin were half as likely to develop cataracts. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study concluded that the combo of the two could reduce cases of AMD by 25 percent. And the tag team may slow the progress of the disease if you do have it.
Green veggies such as spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens and broccoli are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, and eggs are a good source too. They’re also available as supplements.
Load up on these nutrients to help you fight back against the toll aging takes on your vision, and stay eagle eyed for many years to come.