All in Favor, Say Eye

Benefits of Lutein Vitamins for the Eyes

Lutein is a pigment that may help slow down or prevent a number of eye diseases,  such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Many foods contain lutein, such as  leafy, dark green vegetables like collard greens, kale and spinach, but other  foods also contain lutein. These may include yellow corn, green peas and  carrots. Knowing the benefits of lutein in eye disease prevention will help you  make healthy choices that could help you maintain healthy eyes and good vision.

Macular Degeneration

Your macula is a spot of tissue that sits  in the central part of your retina that covers the inner, back of your eye. This  tissue works with other parts of your eye to provide you with the straight-ahead  vision necessary for watching television and reading. If the cells that make up  your macula start to break down, an eye disease called macular degeneration,  this can lead to permanent loss of your central vision. For most people,  treatment does not restore vision. Lutein may help prevent macular degeneration.  As of 2010, the National Eye Institute is continuing a study to evaluate the  possible benefits of 10 mg of lutein each day in preventing macular damage.

 Cataracts

Behind the visible, colored part of your  eye, called the iris, you have a natural lens that helps direct light to the  back of your eye. Protein and water primarily make up the lens, and, with age,  these proteins may start to break down, forming clumps that turn the clear lens  cloudy with a somewhat yellow appearance. These changes to the lens, called a  cataract, result in vision changes that typically prevent people from performing  daily activities, such as driving. The only way to restore vision is with eye  surgery that removes the cloudy lens. The antioxidant properties of lutein may  help slow down or prevent the destruction of the proteins in the lens.

Are You Getting Enough Lutein?

The best thing you can do for your eyes this month, and in the future, is to make sure your diet contains plenty of lutein-rich produce, including:

  • Fruits – Mangoes, watermelon and tomatoes are good sources of lutein
  • Vegetables – Corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, squash and dark leafy greens (such as kale, collards and bok choy) provide lutein

In addition to the foods listed above, you can get zeaxanthin through orange bell peppers, oranges, corn and honeydew melon. I recommend eating five to seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. If you are unable to get adequate lutein through your diet, you may want to consider a vision-supportive supplement. Many multivitamins contain lutein, but some companies also produce a vitamin  supplement designed for eye nutrition.

Article references Dr. Andrew Weil and LiveStrong.com

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