Today the Ocular Nutrition Society (ONS) released the following statement with the aim of informing Americans about the need for nutrition in maintaining healthy vision.
“Significant scientific evidence exists to support the role of certain nutrients, including zinc, vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, to help promote health in the aging eye.
“The displacement of nutrient-dense foods by processed foods in the Western, or American, diet is disconcerting, as is the lack of awareness of key nutrients and other modifiable risk factors that impact eye health. The lack of key diet-derived nutrients is a modifiable risk factor for protecting eye health, and eating a healthy diet rich in these nutrients is encouraged.”
The ONS goes on to express the importance of lutein, zeaxanthin, and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids for preventing vision loss, and suggests taking supplements containing these nutrients foreseeing any straying from a healthy diet.
“There is a need for guidelines that include nutritional recommendations and other lifestyle modifications to aid people in making better choices for protecting the health of their eyes as they age. As such, we support new efforts to develop such guidelines as well as subsequent educational initiatives designed to raise awareness of these recommendations among public and professional audiences,” according to the ONS announcement.
Ophthalmologists, dieticians, nutritionists, optometrists, and primary care physicians have studied the role of specific nutrients in preventing age-related macular degeneration. Experts from said professions have examined data regarding baby-boomers’ attitudes toward vision loss in later age.
In looking at survey data, the researchers found that baby-boomers, aged 45-65, highly value their vision but are not taking the necessary steps to prevent vision loss. In addition, there is little public knowledge about which vitamins can help maintain healthy vision. Many adults were also unaware that smoking heightens the risk of blindness.
Jeffrey Anshel, O.D, Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, and president of the Ocular Nutrition Society, said that around 35 million Americans over the age of 40 suffer from age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma.
“That number is expected to grow to 50 million by 2020,” says Anshel. Baby-boomers moving on into old age will greatly increase the number of Americans with some form of vision loss.