January is famous as the month everyone decides to join the gym and start dieting. Over the years, many have argued that setting resolutions don’t work, and we should just skip the tradition altogether. However, if you can modify just a few small things in your routine the results can be pretty profound. For instance, a recent study found that increased levels of lutein and zeaxanthin – which are types of carotenoids found in foods like carrots, pumpkin, and spinach – can reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 40%. It’s easy to add a little spinach to your morning smoothie or pick up a bottle of carrot juice on your way to work (don’t worry, you can still have coffee first.) Even that pumpkin pie you had over the holidays helped to boost your carotenoid levels. It’s a wonderful thing when pie can help you see better.
Scientists have known for years that antioxidants and vitamins aid in preventing certain ailments of the eye. Most famously the AREDS formulation of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc was found to reduce AMD by 25%. However, this new study (Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study) had over 100,000 participants over a 20 year period. The scope of the study was much larger than previous studies and focused solely on lutein and zeaxanthin.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that these carotenoids reduce the risk of AMD. Age-related macular degeneration affects the macula, which is a yellow spot on the retina. The yellow color is derived exclusively from lutein and zeaxanthin, which comes from the fruits and vegetables you eat. So ‘You are what you eat’ has never been so true. These carotenoids are capable of filtering out blue light, which damages cells in the eye. It makes sense then, that a diet rich in these compounds supports the macula and helps to reduce degeneration.
But how can you know if you are getting enough carotenoids? Kristi Davis, O.D. now offers Biophotonic scans. The Biophotonic Scanner is a non-invasive 30-second procedure in which your hand is scanned for the presence of antioxidants. You can know immediately if your carotenoid levels are high enough to support eye health, or if you need to make adjustments in your diet. The scan is not covered by insurance (yet), but a scan is only $25. Considering what an impact your carotenoid levels have on your eye health, we highly recommend having this scan. We also highly recommend sautéing some spinach for dinner tonight.
For more information on carotenoids and AMD please see: