Vitamin D Protects Against Age-Related Vision Loss

For women under 75, vitamin D could protect against vision loss later in life.

ByABC News
April 11, 2011, 12:19 PM

April 11, 2011— -- Warding off vision loss in old age may have more to do with what's in your kitchen than what's in your medicine cabinet. According to new research published Monday, women who consume high levels of vitamin D through certain fish, dairy and eggs could lower the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in later life, by 59 percent.

Many women must resort to using reading glasses as they age, but for Dorrette White, 47, the blurriness at the center of her vision was something more. After a routine visit to her eye doctor, this Brooklyn mother of four was told she was in the early stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss and blindness among older Americans that strikes 8 and half million Americans.

When she first heard the news, she worried "that it's like months down the line you'll go blind or something like that," White said.

Fortunately for White, her condition is unlikely to lead to blindness any time soon, and for now her only "prescription" is a healthy lifestyle complete with lots of vitamin D-rich foods, said her ophthalmologist, Dr. Shantan Reddy. Reddy has prescribed her a healthy dose of vitamin D-rich foods.

"She's got very early signs…and most of these patients don't progress to more advanced types. But to decrease risk further, I recommend her adding vitamin D rich foods," said Reddy, who is an assistant professor of Ophthalmology at NYU Langone Medical Center.

In Monday's study, women who consumed the most vitamin D cut their risk of developing early AMD by more than half when compared to women with vitamin D-poor diets. Researchers found that risk was lowest when patients consumed 720 international units of Vitamin D per day through foods such as cold water fish, eggs, and dairy.

A little over three ounces of blue fin tuna would meet the daily dose, for example.