Feeding Your Eyes: ODs Write a Healthy Eyes Food Plan

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After learning about the power of nutrition and lifestyle in the prevention of vision loss and chronic ocular disease, Laurie Capogna, OD, and Barbara Pelletier, OD, were motivated to write their first book, Eyefoods: A Food Plan for Healthy Eyes, to help provide other ECPs with a clear nutrition and lifestyle plan for their patients.

“Some of the most important eye nutrients for ocular health and function are the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA),” noted Capogna. “Other important nutrients are vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc. Even though we no longer prescribe ocular vitamins with beta-carotene, after the results of AREDS (which found an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers taking beta-carotene supplementation), beta-carotene from food is safe, so we still recommend food sources of beta carotene.”

Laurie Capogna, OD, and Barbara Pelletier, OD, wrote Eyefoods to provide ECPs with a clear nutrition and lifestyle plan for their patients.
After writing the first Eyefoods book, the authors wrote Eyefoods for Kids to educate the next generation about the importance of maintaining their ocular health.
There are many foods that contain high amounts of these eye nutrients. “One of the most important eyefood categories are leafy green vegetables, with kale taking the top spot,” said Capogna. “Other eyefoods include cold-water fish such as wild salmon, sardines, mackerel and rainbow trout, eggs and orange peppers, which are high in zeaxanthin.”

Here are some quick tips ECPs can share with patients:

Leafy Greens: A handful a day helps keep AMD away.
Orange Peppers: Eat two peppers per week, two ways, raw and cooked.
Cold Water Fish: Eat four servings of fish per week, small is safe as smaller fish tend to have less contamination.

ECPs shouldn’t forget to lead by example. It’s a good idea to stock the office kitchen with nuts and seeds, kiwi, citrus fruit, orange peppers, and hummus for eye healthy snacks throughout the workday. Offering eye-friendly food samples to patients is a good idea as well to help promote talking to patients about being equipped to make better everyday food choices at home.

One problem with prevention efforts toward eye diseases is that education usually starts well into adulthood. Most people don’t get this information in their younger years while they can still take preventive measures. As a result, Capogna and Pelletier have written their second book Eyefoods for Kids: A Tasty Guide to Nutrition and Eye Health to help educate the next generation about the importance of maintaining their ocular health.

“As our patients’ primary eyecare providers, we have the power to motivate them to make better everyday choices that will lead them to a lifetime of healthier eyes,” said Capogna.