The diet adjustment you can make to help save your eyes

slices of wheat bread

When you were little, your mother told you to eat your carrots for healthy eyes. And while it’s true that carrots are high in vitamin A, which is good for your vision, they’re not the only eye-friendly food.

In fact, incorporating more whole grains into your diet can protect your eyes against a whole host of vision conditions. Whole grains contain vitamin E, zinc and niacin, which can all improve eye health by reducing the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss among older people.1,2

Replacing refined carbohydrates and high glycemic index foods with whole grains can slow the progression of AMD by as much as 8 percent.3 Instead of eating high glycemic carbohydrates, like white bread and pasta, choose less refined carbohydrates such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, and whole-wheat breads and pastas.4

Whole grains reduce the likelihood of blood sugar spikes that can damage the retina over time.5 Corn, which is also gluten-free, is high in antioxidants and lutein, an enzyme necessary for sustained eye health.6 The zinc in whole grains protects eye tissue from light and inflammation.7 Eating whole grains is a good nutritional practice for both overall health and eye health.

According to the Whole Grains Council, “Whole grains, or foods made from them, contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed.”8

Examples of whole grains include:

• Amaranth
• Barley
• Buckwheat
• Corn, including whole cornmeal and popcorn
• Millet
• Oats, including oatmeal
• Quinoa
• Rice, both brown rice and colored rice
• Rye
• Sorghum (also called milo)
• Teff
• Triticale
• Wheat
• Wild rice

So keep following your mom’s advice and eat your carrots. But adding whole grains is one more way to make her happy and help your eye health.

1. Bauer, Joy. “Health Benefits of Whole Grains.” Accessed September 5, 2012.
2. Delisi, Scott. “Enjoy Whole Grains for Better Vision and Oral Health.” Ameritas Insight September 6, 2011.
3. Chiu CJ, Milton RC, Klein R, Gensler G, Tayor A. “Dietary carbohydrate and the progression of age-related macular degeneration: a prospective study from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;86(4):1210-8.
4. Oz, Mehmet C., MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD. “7 Foods for Healthy Eyes.” Accessed September 5, 2012.
5. Stewart, Helen. “Improve Eye Health 3 Easy Ways.” Natural Medicine @ April 14, 2012.
6. Verhoff, Elaina. “How to Choose the Healthiest Whole Grains.” January 1, 2012.
7. University of California Berkeley, “Eye Supplements (Ocuvite).” Wellness Letter. August 2008.
8. Whole Grains Council Accessed September 5, 2012. – See more at: