I was recently told by an optometrist that – as I age, I should expect my vision to decline. This concept was nothing new to me – as I heard many times throughout my 40 years as a registered nurse that our health, including eye health, deteriorates as we age. Most of us are also all too familiar with the fact that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness among the elderly, followed by cataracts. However, as a holistic practitioner and student of nutrition for 40 years, I also know that the pathology of these and many other conditions can be influenced, if not caused, by free radical damage and in many cases, can be prevented and or greatly helped by a diet rich in antioxidants. We know too that other dietary conditions including obesity and diabetes also have a detrimental effect on eyesight.
Although over 20 years ago, I did succumb to the convenience of wearing glasses and or contacts, after doing research for this article, my understanding and belief in our body’s inherent power to heal (and yes, even as it relates to our vision) has been ignited once again. Aging does not automatically equate to decreased vision. Instead, I believe, as several of my mentors in the natural healing movement do, that failing vision has less to do with genetics and the inevitability of aging and more to do with the fact that it is a common side effect of our modern lifestyles – Artificial lighting, lack of sunlight, environmental toxins, processed foods, constant screen time etc. – are all contributing factors to eyestrain and deteriorating vision.
Given this awareness, it seems wise to make certain lifestyle changes, as well as include specific nutrients in our diet that have been shown to prevent or improve eye related problems. With a commitment to learn and share more about this not often discussed topic, I list below some of these strategies, including: diet and specific supplements, limiting toxic exposure, sleep, relaxation, and a 100 year old method for restoring and improving vision called the Bates Therapy.
Diet, Nutrients, and Specific Antioxidants for Eye Health:
Diet: A well rounded, organic diet that includes a colorful array of vegetables, leafy green (especially kale), specific eye health enhancing foods such as black currants, bilberry, and Omega 3 rich foods