Foods for Macular Degeneration

Dr. Michael Lange, Optometrist and Certified Nutrition Specialist discusses proper diet for macular degeneration.

Lange Eye Care and Fortifeye Vitamins were both founded by Dr. Michael Lange, optometrist and syndicated talk show host based in Ocala, FL.

Dr. Lange Eye InstituteProper nutrition is so important when dealing with macular degeneration. When adjusting a patient’s diet who has macular degeneration we often see many overall health benefits?not just ocular health benefits. It is crucial for the optometrist or ophthalmologist to take the time to discuss nutrition for macular degeneration since this is one of the best lines of defense that we currently have.

Dr. Michael Lange, optometrist, on the best foods for macular degeneration patients

Macular degeneration is often a nutritionally responsive disease. More and more doctors are recommending proper diet and supplementation to their patients with macular degeneration. Foods for macular degeneration are extremely important for ocular health as well as overall health. Many patients and doctors are learning about the power of food for macular degeneration. Specific foods when consumed frequently may be beneficial for macular health. Proper nutrition will improve all aspects of health in the eye and the entire body.

Dark green leafy vegetables

Patients with a diagnosis of macular degeneration should be consuming dark green leafy vegetables on a daily basis. These may consist of spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens and mustard greens. Greens contain chlorophyll and are therefore very difficult for humans to break down the cell wall and digest if raw. Dr. Lange suggests, “I do not recommend eating these greens raw due to the high acidity and oxalate content. However, gently cooking, chopping or juicing dark greens will break down the cell wall and release the bioavailability of the greens. It will decrease the acidity and oxalate content making greens a very healthy food.

Astaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin

“Lutein is the most valuable nutrient in the dark green leafy vegetables and the highest concentrations of lutein are in kale and spinach,” says Dr. Michael Lange, optometrist and certified nutrition specialist. “Dark green leafy vegetables must be organically grown to avoid the toxic pesticides that are used on non-organically grown greens. All vegetables that are in ‘the dirty dozen’ should only be consumed if they are organically grown.”

Orange bell peppers provide zeaxanthin

Orange bell peppers are extremely nutritious for the retina due to high amounts of zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin is a super carotenoid like lutein that actually increases macular pigment density when consumed in foods or supplements. Increased macular pigments density may be protective against macular degeneration. Some studies even indicate that when increasing the consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin actual visual performance may increase.

Goji berries have the highest zeaxanthin

Organic goji berries contain the highest amount of zeaxanthin of any known food. “I recommend eating goji berries on a daily basis to anyone who has been diagnosed with or has a family history of macular degeneration,” says Dr. Lange.

Eat wild Alaskan salmon for omega three and astaxanthin

“Eating wild Alaskan salmon three times a week is advisable due to the omega three and astaxanthin content. Never consume farm raised salmon due to the high amounts of contaminants and synthetic astaxanthin and orange dye. Omega three consumption has been associated with healthier heart and healthier eyes. Consuming more omega three from fish and omega three fish oil capsules are proving to be beneficial for macular degeneration. One must be extremely careful of the type of fish they eat because of potential contamination with heavy metals and PCB, a persistent organic pollutant banned in 1979 but still present in ocean waters. I recommend all my patients eat wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, rainbow trout or canned light tuna three to four days a week. On the days you don’t eat fish you should take a good omega three fish oil in the triglyceride form with an EPA around 850-900 and a DHA around 550-600.”

Astaxanthin improves accommodative ability

SAMSUNGAstaxanthin is a super carotenoid that gives the orange color to wild Alaskan salmon. Astaxanthin is the most powerful of the carotenoids; it is an extremely powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory. Astaxanthin does cross the blood brain barrier and the blood retinal barrier and some early studies may link this carotenoid to improved retinal health. Accommodative ability is your eye’s ability to focus on close objects. Astaxanthin does improve the ciliary muscle function in the eye and therefore improves accommodative ability and reduces eye fatigue and stress. Astaxanthin is also a natural sunscreen helping to block much of the harmful rays of the sun upon the skin. All of these benefits of astaxanthin make it one of the nutrients recommended for good retinal health.

Foods with anti-VEGF activity

Eating more foods that exhibit anti-VEGF activity may also prove to be beneficial for macular degeneration. Anti-VEGF stands for anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, which means to keep the formation of new blood vessels under control. Some specific foods that may have anti-VEGF activity are organic green tea, red wine, curcumin/turmeric spice, citrus bioflavonoids from eating the white pulpy part of a citrus fruit, orange bell peppers, goji berries and soy products.

Organic green tea and soy

Green tea should be organically grown green tea leaves and not the overly processed tea in the bags. “My favorite green tea is Long Jing Dragon Well green tea due to its high polyphenol and low caffeine content,” says Dr. Lange. “Stay away from decaffeinated teas because of the toxic chemicals that are used. When consuming soy products make sure the soy is not genetically modified and is organically grown. I prefer fermented soy products.”

Red wine for resveratrol

“If consuming wine try to find a Pinot Noir from the Oregon region that is made from organically grown grapes,” Dr. Lange advises. “This wine will contain the highest amount of resveratrol and the least amount of sulfites or pesticides. Resveratrol is the nutrient in red wine that research is showing may have retinal health benefits. New studies indicate resveratrol may be beneficial for both dry and wet macular degeneration.”

Organic virgin coconut oil – every day!

coco152“I have also begun to recommend that patients start to cook with organic virgin coconut oil and possibly take a teaspoon one to two times a day of this nutritious oil,” says Dr. Lange. “Medium chain triglycerides and lauric acid may prove to have some neuro protective properties and may also benefit patients with dementia. Patients with dementia have an increased risk of macular degeneration so there may be some protective properties yet to be found for the retina from coconut oil.”

The problem with beta carotene

Studies now indicate that beta carotene—especially in supplements—has a tendency to compete for binding sites on lutein and zeaxanthin in the liver and therefore block the absorption of lutein and zeaxanthin from entering the blood stream. Dr. Michael Lange, optometrist and certified nutrition specialist, gives this advice about avoiding beta carotene. “In my opinion this is a huge risk for accelerated degeneration of the macula, so do not consume any additional beta carotene in a vitamin.”

About the Paleo and Mediterranean diets

“I personally recommend for patients to eat a diet that is similar to the Paleo and Mediterranean diets. These diets will give plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and protein, and include minimal amounts of overly processed and synthetic foods. I have also started to advise patients to try to minimize consumption of gluten-containing foods like wheat, rye, barley and oats. Genetically modified organism (GMO) foods such as these can cause some intestinal problems and poor absorption of nutrients. Organic brown rice is the best type of starchy carbohydrate to consume.”

Take vitamins if you have a family history of macular degeneration

“I tell all my patients that come through any of the Lange Eye Care locations to try to consume 12 to 15 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and eat protein from organically raised poultry, wild fish or grass fed beef,” says Dr. Lange. “Realistically most patients will fall short of this goal. This is why I developed the Fortifeye line of vitamins. I recommend Fortifeye Complete Plus to many early macular degeneration patients and Fortifeye Complete Macular Defense Fortifeye Complete Macular Defense Eye Vitaminfor moderate to marked cases of macular degeneration. If there is a family history of macular degeneration and the patient is 200 lbs or less I would recommend Fortifeye Complete Plus, and if over 200 lbs I would recommend Fortifeye Complete Macular Defense. I also recommend adding one Fortifeye FOCUS to get the astaxanthin in conjunction with the Complete Plus or Macular Defense. I also like to recommend a good undenatured whey protein isolate or concentrate to my patients once a day to ensure they are getting a good source of protein and also to stimulate the master anti-oxidant glutathione.”

Success with macular degeneration through dietary changes

“I have had incredible success with all forms of macular degeneration when we adjust the patient’s diet and supplements. My advice to anyone with macular degeneration is to find an optometrist or ophthalmologist that is in tune with nutrition. These doctors will not only be able to provide traditional medical and surgical care but will also utilize the power of proper nutrition. This is the combination I have found that works best for all patients,” says Dr. Michael Lange, optometrist, certified nutrition specialist and founder of the Lange Eye Institute.

If you have macular degeneration and want the best possible care you should visit The Lange Eye Institute in The Villages, Florida. The phone number there is (352) 753-4014. Or call the main office in Ocala, Florida, at (352) 237-3768.

Take control of your future macular health by following the healthy advice that Dr. Michael Lange, optometrist and certified nutrition specialist, has provided in this article. If you eat the right foods for macular degeneration you may change the direction your retinal health is going. Dr. Lange also recommends discussing this with your optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Michael P. Lange OD, CNSimagesCA2ZKAPF
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Syndicated Daily Talk Show Host (Ask the Doctor)
CEO of Lange Eye Care and Associates
CEO of Fortifeye Vitamins
CEO of Lange Sun and Nutrition Centers

Dr. Michael P. Lange is a Board Certified Optometric Physician and a Certified Nutrition Specialist who started Lange Eye Care and Associates in Ocala, Florida, in March 1993. Lange Eye Care has grown to nine locations throughout the state of Florida with three surgery centers. The Lange Eye Institute at The Villages in central Florida is home base for many of the nutritional studies that Fortifeye is involved in. Dr. Lange is one of the first doctors in the industry to utilize intracellular blood tests and blood absorption studies to improve the Fortifeye vitamin line. Dr. Lange travels the world for nutritional research gathering valuable information to continuously improve Fortifeye vitamin formulations, and is actively involved in the clinical practice of eyecare. He is a guest lecturer, contributing author to many eye care magazines, and a daily syndicated talk show host of ‘Ask The Doctor’ which broadcasts several times a week  from Tampa Bayor Gainesville  on radio stations throughout the country and video streaming all over the world via the Internet.