As you get older, the fine print seems to get a lot smaller. Blurred vision starts appearing more and more, and reading glasses become a necessity at restaurants where light is dim and italic fonts are used on the menus. Hopefully, you haven’t already received a diagnosis for macular degeneration, cataracts or glaucoma, but even if you have, you can start eating copious amounts of these five foods to better your vision.
Wolfberries are goji berries. They’re known for their positive effects on vision. Goji berries are high in a carotenoid called zeaxanthin, which accumulates in the macula of the eyes along with lutein. Both zeaxanthin and lutein act as antioxidants and absorb blue light. In a 2005 study, 14 volunteers consumed wolfberries for about a month. The amount of wolfberries was enough to provide about 3 mg zeaxanthin. The added consumption of the wolfberries was enough to multiply their initial levels of zeaxanthin by 2-1/2 times in the macula.
Bilberries are dark blue/black berries that have a high level of anthocyanins in them. It contains antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory effects and lowers oxidative stress in the body.
A few decades ago, the early studies on bilberry showed that airplane pilots whose vision was decreasing improved when they took bilberry capsules. Bilberries are very small fruits but are collected similarly to elderberries and then an extract is made from them. In one recent 2013 study, a yeast-fermented bilberry extract given to 30 middle-aged healthy volunteers with myopia (nearsightedness) improved significantly. Their eyes accommodated much better to light and to what they were reading.
In Russian animal studies, bilberry extract completely prevented cataracts and macular degeneration in the lens and retina.
In a 90-day study of the effects of goji berries on 75 elderly patients on the macula of the eye, the patients who took the berry extract showed protective effects from hypopigmentation and soft drusen accumulation in the macula that is tied to macular degeneration.
3. Black Beans
Black beans are high in zinc, and zinc has been found to be helpful for vision. In studies, patients with macular degeneration are often deficient in zinc. Zinc is primarily found in foods such as oysters, the dark meat of chicken and turkey, and red meats (beef, buffalo, and lamb) and plant foods generally are low in the trace element. Zinc is usually bound up in non-absorbable forms in nuts and seeds unless these foods are soaked overnight prior to eating.
Tomatoes are high in lutein. Studies show that lutein prevents macular degeneration.
People who eat spinach frequently have less of a chance that their macular degeneration will progress.
Bucheli, P., et al. Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels. Optom Vis Sci 2011 Feb; 88(2): 257-62.
Cheng, C.Y., et al. Fasting plasma zeaxanthin response to Fructos barbarum L. (wolfberry; Kei Tze) in a food-based human supplementation trial. Brit Journal of Nutrition 2005 Jan/ 93(1): 123-30.
Chu, W.; et al. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) In: Benzie, I.F.F., Wachtell-Gator, S., editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton FL: CRC Press; 2011. Chapter 4.
Kamiya, K., et al. Effect of a fermented bilberry extracts on visual outcomes in eyes with myopia: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther 2013 Apr; 29(3): 356-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23113643
Fursova, A.Zh., et al. Dietary supplementation with bilberry extract prevents macular degeneration and cataracts in senesce-accelerated OXYS rats. Adv Gerontol 2005; 16:76-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16075680