7 easy, natural ways to reduce your risk of macular degeneration, cataracts,
and other age-related vision problems
Last month, I reported on all of the natural and effective options to preserve your hearing as you age—and in turn, improve your longevity.
As I was writing that article, I was struck by the similarities to the natural approaches shown to preserve vision and prevent age-related issues like macular degeneration and cataracts.
Part of the reason we don’t see and hear more, so to speak, about these natural ways of safeguarding hearing and vision has to do—not surprisingly—with mainstream medicine’s reliance on high-tech drugs and devices for eye and ear health.
The highly technical medical subspecialties of ENT (ear, nose, and throat) and ophthalmology are dominated by new technologies—and natural approaches are the furthest thing from these doctors’ minds.
This is in contrast to more holistic fields of medical practice—like internal medicine and family practice—that try to look at the whole patient, rather than just individual organs or symptoms.
But make no mistake, nutrients and other natural approaches are just as important for your eyes and ears as they are for your overall health.
My 7 simple steps for healthier eyes
The eyes are amazing—and complex—sensory organs. Despite their intricate makeup, keeping them healthy can actually be quite simple.
In fact, there are seven easy steps you can take—starting today—to help prevent the onset of serious eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinopathy.
Step 1: Get moving in the great outdoors
Make sure to head outside for a daily walk or get some light-to-moderate physical activity every day—like housework, gardening, or swimming.
Exercise can prove to be not only simple and enjoyable, but can also help protect you against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes—all risk factors for eye-related diseases.
Step 2: Shade your eyes
As you know, the sun generates a lot of radiation, some of which is potentially harmful in excess. The ozone layer of the atmosphere blocks most of it—but not all. Some ultraviolet rays still penetrate the clouds and reflect off rocks, snow, sand, and water. And these rays can damage your eyes, eventually causing cataracts.
So choose sunglasses that block 99 percent of UVA and UVB, two types of ultraviolet light. For added extra protection and shade for your eyes, wear a cap with a visor or a brimmed hat, which work well for blocking direct ultraviolet rays.
Step 3: Soak up the sun
While it’s vital to protect your eyes, you don’t want to block the rest of your body from receiving sunlight.
Your skin needs exposure to UVB light to activate vitamin D production in the body. And the more vitamin D in your bloodstream, the less risk of the cardiovascular diseases and diabetes that can harm your eyes. (See page 7 for more on the natural benefits of vitamin D.)
Researchers believe other sunlight wavelengths play an important role for the pineal gland (an endocrine organ in the brain) and circadian rhythm (commonly referred to as your “body clock”)—both of which help you sleep soundly. Lack of sleep is also associated with heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.
Step 4: Curb your sweet tooth
While a few extra pounds tend to be all right for your health, obesity can increase inflammation and raise the risk of high blood pressure, heart and vascular diseases, and type II diabetes.
High blood sugar, in particular, contributes to cataracts and damages small blood vessels that supply the retina.
Eventually, it can lead to diabetic retinopathy—a condition where blood vessels in the tissue of the retina, or back of the eye, become damaged. This condition can produce symptoms that include floaters, blurriness, dark areas of vision, difficulty perceiving colors, and even blindness.
To avoid this condition, keep your blood sugar balanced. That means avoiding sugar and processed, refined carbs. And be sure to use generous amounts of spices like cinnamon and curcumin (turmeric), both of which have been shown in study upon study to help promote optimal blood sugar support.
Ask your doctor to closely monitor your hemoglobin A1C levels to find out if you’re at risk for type II diabetes. If you’re diagnosed with diabetes and your doctor insists on prescribing a drug, the only safe and effective drug to take is metformin. Originally derived from the European folk remedy French lilac, metformin helps prevents the eye complications of type II diabetes.
For more all-natural approaches to lowering blood sugar and preventing (and even reversing) diabetes, refer to my new Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes. To learn more about this online course, or to enroll today, simply click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV3U503.
Step 5: Stay hydrated
Overall, it’s important to stay hydrated to prevent the eye and lens from drying out. But that doesn’t mean you have to drown yourself in glass after glass of water every day…
For decades now, coffee has been given a bad rap by misguided “experts,” due in part to its supposed dehydrating effects. But research shows you can drink up to six cups of coffee a day without getting dehydrated.1
In general, studies link drinking three to four cups of coffee per day with a host of health benefits. These include, but are not limited to: lowering your risk of diabetes, protecting your liver, staving off depression, and dramatically reducing your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
And moderate consumption of coffee gives you added eye-health benefits as it contains antioxidants that help defend against damage to the retina and the lens, where cataracts can potentially form.
When you’ve finished your morning coffee, you can switch over to my other favorite way to stay hydrated throughout the day: an herbal tea called aspal (also known as red bush or rooibos).
Just a cup or two per day, totaling to 400 mg daily, is enough to provide hydrating benefits at a cellular level. You can find it combined with other healthy water-soluble powdered extracts such as blueberry, baobab and rose hips.
Step 6: Eat the colors of the rainbow
I always recommend protecting your vision by following a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fish. And new research shows that these foods can specifically lower risk of macular degeneration.3
Follow an eye-healthy diet filled with colorful, edible plants. Rich colors in fruits and vegetables are due to pigments, which by definition interact with solar radiation, or light.
Blue, purple, and dark, ruby-red fruits contain anthocyanins, potent antioxidants that help strengthen blood vessels—including those in the retina.
Good examples include bilberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and plums.
Yellow-orange-red fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of carotenoids, which also benefit eyesight.
And don’t forget the colorful orange marine carotenoid called astaxanthin, which is available in liquid form together with Vitamin D.
I helped discover the role of the carotenoids lutein and lycopene 30 years ago at the National Cancer Institute. Research shows these two nutrients support glandular tissue, as well as nerve tissue in the eye.
Carotenoid-rich food sources include: cantaloupe, carrots, dark leafy greens, grapefruit, red peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and watermelon.
Eating fruits and vegetables also helps slow digestion and absorption of sugars and carbs from the diet, which helps keep your blood sugar balanced. And these nutritious foods contain many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant constituents that help keep your eyes healthy.
Overall, strive to eat seven or eight servings of colorful fruits and vegetables each day. It sounds like a lot, but really, a serving is only about a half cup.
A typical salad contains several cups of greens, along with one or two servings of other vegetables. So eating a big salad for lunch gives you more than half of your daily quota. If you have a piece of fruit for breakfast and as an afternoon snack, and a vegetable side dish with dinner, you’ve reached eight servings without making any extra effort.
Step 7: Stock up on vision-protecting supplements
There are several supplements with solid research supporting their vision-protecting benefits. In particular, a large clinical trial called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study pointed to higher intake of omega-3s and zinc for reducing the risk of macular degeneration.2
If you regularly eat fish, I recommend 4 to 5 grams of omega-3 fish oil per day (and 6 grams of omega-3 if you don’t eat fish) that contains 1400 to 1800 mg of EPA and 1000 to 1400 mg of DHA, along with 50 to 60 mg of zinc. (I’ll give you all the details on these new, updated recommendations for omega-3s in next month’s issue).
Always take zinc in the bioavailable form (as zinc monomethionine, which is linked to an amino acid that binds minerals).
For the rest of the supplements you need to help protect your vision, refer to the sidebar above.
Following these seven simple steps every day will help you see far into the future. And as an added bonus, you’ll boost your hearing and overall health as well.
Your simple, sight-saving supplement regimen
Add extra insurance to the longevity of your vision with the following nutrients that have been shown in numerous studies to help promote eye health.
Vitamin B9/folic acid —250 mcg
Vitamin C—250 mg, twice daily
Vitamin E—200 mg
Lycopene—10 to 12 mg
Take each of these daily whenever is convenient for you (morning or evening, with or without meals). And as with all supplement regimens, know that it can take up to two to three months before you begin to feel—and really see—the benefits.
1“No Evidence of Dehydration with Moderate Daily Coffee Intake: A Counterbalanced Cross-Over Study in a Free-Living Population.” PLoS One. 2014; 9(1): e84154.
2“A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Trial of High-Dose Supplementation With Vitamins C and E, Beta Carotene, and Zinc for Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Vision LossAREDS Report No. 8.” Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119(10):1417—1436. doi:10.1001/archopht.119.10.1417.
3“Intake of key micronutrients and food groups in patients with late-stage age-related macular degeneration compared with age—sex-matched controls.” British Journal of Ophthalmology 2017; 101(8): 1027-1031.