Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in those 65 and older.

More than 2 million Americans, ages 50 and over, have AMD, a 25 percent increase from the last decade.

Symptoms of AMD include:
• Straight lines, such as a flag pole or streetlight, may appear wavy
• A dark or empty spot may block the center of vision
• Written words or type may appear blurry

Although there are treatments for AMD, there is no cure. You can reduce your risk for AMD with the following steps recommended by “Prevent Blindness America” (preventblindness.org/amd):

• Visit an eye doctor regularly
• Stop smoking
• Eat healthy foods, including foods rich in certain antioxidants
• Stay active
• Control the blood pressure
• Protect the eyes from the sun by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and a brimmed hat

Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease which is characterized by fatty deposits (drusen) that form under the light-sensing cells in the retina. Vision loss in dry AMD usually progresses slowly. Wet AMD is less common, but more rapidly threatening to vision. Wet AMD causes tiny blood vessels under the retina to leak or break open. This distorts vision and causes scar tissue to form.

National Eye Institute Research: Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS)
The first Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) - sponsored by the Federal government's National Eye Institute - found that taking high levels of antioxidants (Vitamins C, and E, beta-carotene) with zinc and copper reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD by as much as 25 percent.


AREDS2, a follow-up study, eliminated the beta-carotene supplement because of data from the National Cancer Institute which strongly suggested that beta-carotene supplements increased lung cancer risk and disease progression in smokers.

Lutein and zeaxanthin, which are in the same family of nutrients as beta-carotene, also have important functions in the retina. Researchers subsequently replaced beta-carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin, which is thought to be a safer and possibly more effective alternative.


Although zinc was found to be an essential component of the AREDS formulation in the original trial, some nutritional experts recommended a lower dose. The dose of zinc was thus reduced from 80mg per day to 25 mg per day. High zinc intake can produce side effects including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. Over the long-term, excessive zinc intake may decrease copper uptake and interfere with copper-containing enzymes that help support healthy metabolism.


Talk with your doctor before you begin taking any dietary supplements. Discuss supplementation with your Meijer Pharmacist as well to review your current medications and to make sure supplements will not have adverse interactions with your medications (both over-the-counter and prescription drugs).


Dietary supplement guidelines based on AREDS2 study suggests a daily intake of the following to reduce AMD or slow the progression of AMD:
? Vitamin E (400 IU)
? Vitamin C (500 mg)
? Lutein (10mg)
? Zeaxanthin (2 mg)
? Zinc (80 mg)
? Copper (2 mg)

AMD Prevention
Diet is essential for maintaining the health of your eyes. A diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in antioxidant foods including vitamins C and E, selenium, zinc, and carotenes lutein and zeaxanthin may delay or reduce the severity of AMD.


Foods to Enjoy
Eat the freshest and brightest fruits and vegetables. Pick the most colorful vegetables and fruits you can find -- red, dark green, orange, or yellow. Frozen vegetables and fruit without added sauces or sugars are convenient and nutritious alternatives as well.

These foods play a key role in keeping your eyes healthy:
• Food sources of antioxidants (lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene): Carrots, Corn, Kiwi, Pumpkin, Yellow squash, Zucchini squash, Red grapes, Green peas, Cucumber, Butternut squash, Bell pepper, Celery, Cantaloupe, Sweet potatoes, Dried apricots, Tomato products and tomatoes, Dark green leafy vegetables, Spinach, Kale, Turnips, Collard greens.
• Foods rich in Zinc include spinach, nuts, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, beans, lean beef and pork, shellfish (oysters)
• Nuts: contain Omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and copper which play a role in preventing age-related eye diseases. Even just a handful of nuts at two or three times a week can reduce your risk of AMD.


Foods to Limit:
A diet high in saturated fats can lead to fatty plaque deposits in the macular vessels, increasing risk for AMD. Limit high fat foods including highly processed foods and baked goods. Consume lean meats in moderation—look for loin and round cuts of beef and pork. A recent research study suggested that consuming red meat (10 times a week or more) may increase risk for macular degeneration by as much as 47%.

Recipes for Vision Health

Spinach Lasagna
Makes 8-12 Servings

Ingredients:
2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen chopped spinach
2 cups Meijer part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1/2 tsp. McCormick black pepper
1 tsp. McCormick garlic powder (or 2-3 cloves minced garlic)
1/2 tsp. McCormick dried basil (or 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil)
1/2 tsp. McCormick dried oregano
2 cups Meijer shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 (24 oz.) jar Meijer Marinara sauce
9 Whole grain lasagna noodles, uncooked
1/2 cup water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13” x 9” baking dish with oil spray.
2. Cook and drain the spinach well, then set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, egg, egg white, pepper, garlic, basil, and oregano. Add the spinach and mix again thoroughly.
3. Cover the bottom of the pan with tomato sauce (about ¼ of the jar) and place down 3 of the uncooked lasagna noodles. Top with half of the spinach-ricotta mixture and then a layer of 3 more noodles. Top with the remaining spinach-ricotta mixture and then the last 3 lasagna noodles. Pour the remaining tomato sauce on top.
4. Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese. Pour the water around the edge of the pan (this will cook the noodles), and cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Let stand to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing to allow the lasagna to set up and the extra water to be absorbed.

Nutrition Information per serving (1/12 of recipe): Calories: 215, Total Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 40 mg, Sodium: 385 mg, Carbohydrate: 23g, Dietary Fiber: 3g, Protein: 13g

Recipe Source: Adapted from JoyBauer.com Food Cures, Joy Bauer, MS Registered Dietitian

Broccoli, Beef and Barley Bowl

Serves 4