Nutrients May Help Save Eyes

Eating Foods Rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin May Help Prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on September 10, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

Sept. 11, 2007 -- New research shows that eating yellow and green vegetables may help people aged 60 and older avoid age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

That news comes from a study of some 4,500 people aged 60-80 who were screened for age-related macular degeneration, which hampers central vision.

In surveys, participants reported how often they had eaten 90 different foods during the past year. Those foods included yellow and green veggies rich in the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin.

Those with the highest self-reported intake of foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin were 35% less likely than those with the lowest lutein and zeaxanthin intake to have "wet" age-related macular degeneration.

"Wet" age-related macular degeneration involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula. Those blood vessels leak blood and fluid, disrupting vision.

No other nutrients stood out in the study, which appears in today's edition of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

The study doesn't prove that lutein and zeaxanthin prevent age-related macular degeneration. But the researchers -- who included John Paul SanGiovanni, ScD, of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group -- argue that that possibility deserves further study.

Meanwhile, here are some foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin: spinach, kale, turnip greens, collards, mustard greens, squash, green peas, broccoli, pumpkin, and corn.

Show Sources

SOURCES: SanGiovanni, J. Archives of Ophthalmology, September 2007; vol 125: pp 1225-1232. WebMD Medical Reference: "Understanding Macular Degeneration -- the Basics." U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Lutein + Zeaxanthin Content of Selected Foods." News release, JAMA/Archives.

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