Research spanning more than 20 years has shown that people who consume more vegetables are at lower risk of developing macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the USA. It affects approximately 10 million Americans; that’s more than glaucoma and cataracts combined. Macular degeneration is the slow deterioration of the cells in the macular, a tiny yellowish area near the center of the retina. It is responsible for clear vision, reading, recognizing faces and the discernment of colors. With aging, the macular becomes thin and this gradually destroys sharp, central vision.

There are two main types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. The condition is said to be incurable, but the earlier it is detected, the more vision you are likely to retain.

A recent study published in the Official Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology included 76,693 female participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and 39,519 male participants in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The individuals followed a typical Western style diet, or one of two healthier diets: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) or the alternative Mediterranean Diet (aMED).

The researchers found that following either one of the healthier diets was associated with a significantly reduced incidence of macular degeneration. The people on those diets also experienced much lower rates of cardiovascular disease. This is thought to be due to the higher consumption of vegetables, seafood, nuts and olive oil.

For most people, the desire to lose weight is what primarily motivates them to eat healthy food. It’s important to remember that regardless of your weight, vegetables are a critical component of your diet in order to keep you feeling well for as long as possible. A great number of Americans lose their vision when they get older and it’s something most people don’t think about until it happens. It is tragic to see that so many cases could have been prevented.

All brightly colored fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants. Yellow, orange and red foods are particularly good for your eyes because they contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Please try to include as many vegetables in your diet each day as possible. If you don’t always have the time to do this, or you have a family history of vision problems, a supplement may help you.