For 40 years, Dr. Robert Abel Jr. has dedicated his professional life as an ophthalmologist to preserving vision. As a founding partner in a large eye care practice in Delaware, he operates on 400 cataract patients a year, but he treats six times that number without surgery.
“We know that specific foods and nutritional supplements have value in treating specific diseases, and we also now know there are also certain foods and supplements that specifically encourage eye health,” says Dr. Abel, author of the book, “The Eye Care Revolution.”
Dr. Abel says by using an understanding of nutritional chemistry and other means it is possible to control or eliminate many of the factors that contribute to the development of serious eye diseases:
Controlled clinical studies show that the risk of developing cataracts can be decreased by more than half by eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, as well as the antioxidants vitamin A, E, lutein, and glutathione boosters.
The risk of developing glaucoma can be lowered by consuming high levels of vitamins C, Omega 3, and B12. Also rhythmic breathing and avoiding blood pressure medications in the evenings.
The risk of developing macular degeneration can be reduced by maintaining high levels of vitamins A, D, E, the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein, DHA, and the amino acid taurine (found in egg whites).
Diabetic retinopathy can be delayed or prevented by consuming vitamin C along with alpha lipoic acid, Quercetin, and other bioflavonoids.
What is the ideal dietary regimen for someone concerned about preserving or improving eye health? In his new book, Dr. Abel lists the Top Ten foods for sght:
• Cold water fish (sardines, cod, mackerel, tuna) are an excellent source of DHA, which provides structural support to cell membranes and is recommended for dry eyes, macular degeneration, and sight preservation.
• Spinach, kale, and green leafy vegetables are rich in carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein protects the macula from sun damage and from blue light.
• Eggs are rich in cysteine, sulfur, lecithin, amino acids, and lutein. Sulfur-containing compounds protect the lens of the eye from cataract formation.
• Garlic, onions, shallots, and capers are also rich in sulfur, which is necessary for the production of glutathione, an important antioxidant for the lens of the eye.
• Non-GMO soy, low in fat and rich in protein, contains essential fatty acids, phytoestrogens, vitamin E, and natural anti-inflammatory agents.
• Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene. Yellow and orange vegetables, like carrots and squash, are important for daytime vision.
• Blueberries and grapes contain anthocyanins, which improve night vision. A cup full of blueberries, huckleberry jam, or a 100 mg bilberry supplement should improve dark adaptation within 30 minutes.
• Wine, known to have a cardio-protective effect, has many important nutrients, which protect the heart, vision, and blood flow.
• Nuts and berries are nature’s most concentrated food sources. Grains, such as flaxseed, are high in the beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol and stabilize cell membranes.
• Extra-virgin olive oil, is a healthy alternative to butter and margarine.
Dr. Abel says to maintain eye health, drink six eight-ounce glasses of filtered water every day to keep properly hydrated, as water helps create the fluid in our eyes.