Eye Care Month

Can bad eyesight be improved? This Eye Care Month, Moises Enghelberg, DO, MSc, ophthalmologist at Loma Linda University Health, highlights the role between food and eye health, the particular importance of diet to eye health in diabetic patients, and describes how to reverse some damage.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that comes in wet and dry forms.  The wet type results from blood vessels leaking fluid into part of the retina, while the dry form causes blurry vision due to either retina degeneration. According to the World Health Organization, AMD is one of the most common conditions in adults with vision loss. It does not lead to complete blindness but can make daily tasks like driving and reading difficult or improbable.  

You are what you eat

Enghelberg says the progression of wet AMD can be slowed and some individuals can reverse minimal damage by ingesting anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods.

Some foods to enjoy while keeping eye health in mind:

  • Dark leafy greens and red and orange fruits and vegetables. These foods contain vitamins A, C, and E that help the body fight cellular damage.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, nuts, and seeds assist the body’s fight against inflammation. These fatty acids can also help reduce cholesterol levels linked with AMD.
  • Zinc and copper. These minerals found in legumes, leafy greens, and eggs help regulate cellular function and absorb antioxidants. 

What to stay away from with AMD:

  • Processed foods
  • Sweets and sugars
  • Fatty beef, pork, and lamb

“Try to refrain from eating whites: rice, bread, and flour,” Enghelberg says. “Pairing nutritious foods with exercise will help burn off excess sugar in the bloodstream.”

AMD in diabetics

Studies have found diabetes to be the primary cause of blindness in adults aged 20 to 74. The same research shows early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care can reduce a person’s risk for severe vision loss from diabetic eye disease by 95%.

Among other health concerns, Enghelberg says type II diabetic individuals may experience blurred vision caused by wet AMD. High blood sugar results in leaky vessels and fluid accumulation in part of the retina leading to swelling and blurry vision.

Enghelberg encourages everyone to partake in healthy eating, but especially emphasizes the importance to diabetic patients due to their susceptibility to eye disease. He encourages all people with diabetes to schedule annual comprehensive eye exams as part of their self-management routine.

The Loma Linda University Health Eye Institute is the primary provider of eye care in the Inland Empire with convenient clinics throughout the region. Make an appointment today.