VIEWPOINT: Eyecare and diet, Marc Grossman, Doctor of Optometry

Marc Grossman, Doctor of Optometry, has authored five books on natural eye care and is co-founder of His view is that they key to good eye care starts with diet, something many diabetics are more than familiar with.

“The main point is to focus on eating vegetables (especially leafy greens), whole grains, eggs, and lean meats,” says Gross man. “Drink plenty of fresh, filtered water.  Avoid excess alcohol, caffeine, sugar, dairy, and toxic fats.  Get a regular dose of exercise (at least 20 minutes of aerobic activity four times per week) and find a positive outlet for stress through practices like yoga or meditation.

This is his overview of how proper nutrition can help you prevent and treat three common eye conditions (mostly associated with aging), glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts.

Glaucoma is known as the “silent thief” because most people do not know they have the disease until it has progressed significantly and vision is severely compromised.  If left untreated, glaucoma can result in tunnel vision, and, in the worst case, leave you completely blind.  Because of the insidious nature of this disease it is essential that you make your annual visit to the doctor for a complete eye exam; the tests for glaucoma are simple and painless.Those who are obese or suffer from arthritis or high blood pressure are likely candidates.

Eat a diet high in vitamin C (citrus fruits, red peppers and tomatoes); omega-3 fatty acids (flax seed oil and cold water fish like salmon, mackerel); and magnesium (nuts, seeds, vegetables, seafood and soy products).  It can be helpful to take any of the above as well as ginkgo biloba in the form of nutritional supplements.

Macular Degeneration is the heavy hitter, causing more cases of irreversible blindness more than any other disease.  Central vision – essential to nearly all aspects of life as you know it – is affected when certain cells in the retina’s macula begin to break down.  There is no cure at this time, but natural remedies can be instrumental in slowing this disease’s progress.

Women, smokers (the risk is elevated by 200-300%), those with uncontrolled high blood pressure, and people with digestive issues who cannot properly absorb nutrients from their food are most susceptible to macular degeneration.

The antioxidant power of the cartenoids lutein and zeaxanthin is key to the prevention and even the improvement of this debilitating disease.  Load up on your leafy greens, including spinach, kale and collards.  Also helpful to those concerned about macular degeneration: the antioxidants in bilberry (also available in blueberries and huckleberries); taurine (eggs, fish, and meats); and zinc (meats, oysters, and whole grains).

Cataracts are caused by free radicals, which are the natural and unavoidable byproduct of metabolism.  They cause a phenomenon called oxidation – a process you are more likely to call “aging.”  Arteries harden, joints get creaky, and the eyes begin to cloud with cataracts as these free radicals accumulate over time.

Smokers, people with food allergies (especially wheat, dairy, and soy), diabetes patients, and those who drink more than seven drinks per week all run a higher risk of developing cataracts.

Help to prevent by eating glutathione is a compound found in the body that is composed of several amino acids. You can boost your levels with eggs, broccoli, avocados, garlic, onions, and cauliflower.  Vitamin C is helpful in this case too, so all the more reason to add citrus fruits, tomatoes, and red peppers to your grocery cart.

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