More than 22 million Americans suffer from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the two leading causes of vision loss and blindness.

Based on research by the National Eye Institute, in addition to countless clinical trials, studies and surveys, there is a positive correlation between good nutrition and the prevention of AMD and cataracts. Studies have suggested that by eating foods rich in six nutrients ó antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc ó you can protect your eyes from disease. In other words healthier eating habits mean healthier eyes.

So, what types of foods are EYE HEALTHY? Most people know or have heard that carrots are a good source of nutrients for the eye. Letís explore other foods that can benefit your eyes.

Most fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamin C, including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers and tomatoes.

Vitamin E is more difficult to obtain from food sources, since it is found in very small quantities. However, good food sources include vegetable oils found in almonds, pecans, wheat germ and sunflower seeds.

Beta-carotene is present in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, deep orange and yellow fruits, and fortified cereals.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are the newest vitamins that we see on vitamin bottles and in literature talking about eye health. These vitamins are found in the central part of the eye called the macula. This is where we find diseases such as age-related macular degeneration or AMD. Research has shown that these vitamins could help in reducing the risk for AMD.

I often prescribe over the counter eye vitamins that have the six nutrients recommended for eye health already in them. Ocuvite and Preservision are both good vitamin supplements that can be purchased at your local pharmacy. I especially recommend for patients that have AMD in their immediate family to take one of these eye vitamins to give themselves the best possible chance at preventing the disease.

Eating healthy for your eyes could be the most promising means of protecting your eyes from AMD and cataracts. In addition eating food rich in the nutrients described above can mean better overall health for you and your family. Consider eating eye healthy foods and gain benefits for your whole body.