looking after your eyes...

Age-related Macula Degeneration (AMD) is the top cause of vision loss for those 60 and older. Two types of AMD exist: dry and wet. 

Dry AMD is the most common and affects about 90 per cent of patients. It is caused by a gradual deterioration of the macula, the part of your retina responsible for central vision. You use central vision to see everything straight ahead, e.g. when reading, driving, or climbing stairs. 

Wet AMD involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula, which can leak blood and fluid and disrupt vision. Besides AMD's link with ageing, scientists know little about what triggers either type, although they have linked smoking and high blood pressure to wet AMD. 

Whilst you can't necessarily stop your eyesight from failing with time, you can slow the process by keeping your eyes as strong and healthy as possible. The following nutritional strategies and eye exercises, culled from healing traditions around the world, can help you see clearly well into your sunset years.

Nutritional Wisdom
You are what you eat, and that goes for your eyes too! For optimal eye health go green and yellow. 

A 2007 study in the Archives of Ophthalmology found that people 60 and older reduced their risk of wet AMD by 35% by eating at least two daily servings of yellow and green vegetables. These vegetables provide antioxidants like Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which absorb harmful UV rays that hit the eye. You find lutein in leafy greens, such as spinach and in broccoli. 

Zeaxanthin occurs abundantly in yellow corn, pumpkin, squash, and orange bell peppers. Other eye-healthy foods include:

» Omega-3 fatty acids - found in cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, as well as in flaxseed, hempseed and canola oils. Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in the health of the retina and reduce inflammation.

» Tomatoes, red peppers and citrus fruits. Diets high in vitamin C lower your risk for cataracts.

» Onions and garlic. The body converts the sulphur in these foods to glutathione, which protects your lenses and helps prevent cataracts.

» Carrots Who could forget this one? The beta-carotene in carrots and other orange or yellow vegetables becomes vitamin A in your body, a nutrient vital for the functioning of the retina.

On the flip side, loading up on sugary and starchy foods make your eyes more vulnerable to AMD.

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