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Treating Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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6 Best (or Worst) Foods for Macular Degeneration

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • Macular degeneration, also known as AMD or age-related macular degeneration, can lead to vision loss due to changes in the macula—the area in the center of your eye where your vision is sharpest. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people older than 55. Certain foods can help you maintain eye health as you age, and could slow vision loss if you do have AMD. There are also foods you should avoid, because they make you more prone to developing the condition. Here's what to seek out--and where to steer clear.

  • 1
    Eat: Colorful or Leafy Veggies
    Overhead photo spinach, broccoli, corn, carrots, peaches and apples

    Your macula contains antioxidants—carotenoids—red and yellow pigments that protect the cells (photoreceptors) necessary for vision. Eating vegetables that contain carotenoids, primarily lutein and zeaxanthin, helps boost the amount of protective pigment around your macula, and can prevent or slow AMD. If you want to boost your carotenoid intake with veggies, choose dark green, bright yellow, or red ones. Good options include kale, spinach, collard greens, and broccoli; red and orange peppers and carrots; and corn and sweet potatoes.

  • 2
    Eat: High-Vitamin C Fruits
    Overhead shot of citrus foots including grapefruit, orange and pomegranate

    Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) helps the body build collagen, which forms strong blood vessels in the eyes and elsewhere. Your eyes process nutrients quickly, so getting enough vitamin C and other nutrients that benefit vision is important. People at high risk for AMD who take vitamin C, along with beta-carotene, vitamin E, and zinc may experience slower progression of advanced AMD by as much as 25%, and slower loss of visual acuity (sharpness) by 19%. Some of the best sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits. Bananas, apples and peaches also have a lot of vitamin C. Fruits also contain antioxidant carotenoids, so they do double duty for your eyes.

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  • 3
    Eat: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    Close-up of chopsticks picking up piece of salmon nigiri sushi

    Experts debate the benefits of omega-3s, which are found in fish oil, but evidence suggests they may lower your risk of developing macular degeneration or slow its progress. These fatty acids may be anti-inflammatory, which can reduce clogged blood vessels in the eye just as they do in the rest of your body, including your cardiovascular system. Fish that contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, mackerel, and herring.

  • 4
    Avoid: Processed Snack Foods (Saturated Fats)
    Overhead photo of double cheeseburger, french fries and orange soda

    Junk food, which is often made with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and linoleic acid, has been linked to a higher risk of advanced macular degeneration, where vision loss is severe. These foods lead to a buildup of cholesterol-containing plaque in blood vessels, including those in your eyes. Plaque damages blood vessels and reduces the amount of nutrient-rich and oxygen-rich blood from reaching your eyes. Some of the worst offenders are commercially made cakes, cookies, peanut butter, potato chips, candy, French fries, and soft drinks. Go for a piece of fruit instead whenever you can.

  • 5
    Avoid: ‘Bad’ Fats in Your Cooking
    Overhead shot of spoon scooping coconut oil out of jar

    When you cook, stay away from oils with high levels of partially hydrogenated fats, such as coconut or palm oil. These unhealthy fats can have the same effect on the progress of macular degeneration as eating foods with a lot of saturated fat and sugar. Choose olive, canola, or flaxseed oil instead. These monounsaturated oils may have anti-inflammatory properties and won’t obstruct the blood vessels in your eyes (or anywhere else in your body).

  • 6
    Eat: Eggs—in Moderation
    Overhead view of brown-shell eggs in green container

    Egg yolks have one of the highest concentrations of the two major carotenoids—lutein and zeaxanthin—that can protect your macula. Some people stay away from egg yolks because of the high cholesterol content. But if your diet is heart-healthy in other ways and your cholesterol levels are normal, your vision might benefit from eating a moderate amount of eggs (about 1 egg/day, but not with bacon!). They may also reduce the risk of cataracts. If you’re unsure about eggs with your health situation, talk with your doctor.

Was this helpful?
  1. Ten Habits for Eye Health and AMD Treatment. American Macular Degeneration Foundation.
  2. Dry macular degeneration. Mayo Clinic.
  3. Can Macular Degeneration Be Reversed? Bright Focus Foundation.
  4. Diet and Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Brigham Health. Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
  5. Lawrenson JG, Evans JR. Omega 3 fatty acids for preventing or slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Apr 9;(4):CD010015.
  6. Junk Food May Be Bad for Your Eyesight. American Macular Degeneration Foundation.
  7. Can having high cholesterol levels have an effect on your eye and vision health? State University of New York College of Optometry.
  8. Are eggs good for you or not? American Heart Association.
  9. Vitamin C. American Optometric Association.
  10. Rasmussen HM, Johnson EJ. Nutrients for the aging eye. Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:741–748.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Mar 6
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