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Spinach and Collard Greens, Not Carrots, For Good Eyesight

When it comes to vision, leafy green vegetables, not carrots, are the way to go. A Harvard study shows that eating spinach or collard greens two to four times a week may reduce, by up to 43 percent, the risk of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is currently the leading cause of vision loss among adults over age 65. "Activities essential for independent living, including reading, driving and writing, are most impaired by the loss of central vision due to this disease that damages the macula, the small central area of the retina," said Dr. Donald R. Murphy of Akron, president of the Ohio Optometric Association.
A group of pigments called carotenoids may be the key ingredient which helps prevent the disease, experts think. Fruits and vegetables (including carrots) contain many different types of carotenoids; the kinds found in leafy green vegetables seem to have the greatest effect on the eyes.
Spinach and collard greens are the richest sources of these type of carotenoids, but they can also be obtained from kale, turnips, mustard greens, chard, romaine lettuce and broccoli. While the use of vitamin supplements may be helpful, the study found that simply increasing dietary intake of carotenoid-rich foods was much more effective.
Optometrists can play an important role in advising about nutrition's affect on vision, especially when there is a family history of macular degeneration or frequent exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays. Smoking also increases the risk of the disease.



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