The eye requires normal levels of oxygen and glucose.  Too little oxygen and glucose can lead to damage of the retina and lens.  Too much oxygen or glucose can cause forms of cataract and retinopathy. The eye also requires various vitamins and nutrients for normal function.

Many studies have looked at the role of various vitamins and nutrients in eye health and disease.  Most recently, these studies have focused on macular degeneration.  Even though there are many disorders of the eye that can be linked to poor nutrition, macular degeneration has been the most prominent. 

The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) looked at the role of various vitamins and nutrients in the progression of cataracts and macular degeneration over a 10-year period.  The study examined the effects of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper.  The vitamins and nutrients belong to a group called antioxidants.  Other members of this group are lutein and zeaxanthin. 

The study showed that these antioxidants were effective in reducing the risk of progression for specific types of macular degeneration.  Other types of macular degeneration and cataracts did not show any effect. 

These nutrients have been incorporated into commercial preparations.  The vitamins are in high doses, so they should not be used unless your eye doctor feels that you have the type of macular degeneration that can be treated.

So, what about carrots?  Carrots, squash and many green leafy vegetables are good sources for the vitamins listed above.  They also have vitamin A, which is a necessary nutrient for retinal function.

Finally, dry eye symptoms can be improved with the use of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.  These can be found in fish oils, flax seeds, canola and soy oils.  It’s not exactly a great Christmas dinner, but can be used throughout the year to minimize dry eye symptoms.

So, as we prepare to enjoy the Holidays, remember what you were told as a child.  Eat your vegetables.  It will certainly help you to enjoy a vision of health.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!