Diabetes is the number-one cause of adult-onset blindness and may be effectively prevented, managed, and treated by lifestyle choices, including a plant-based diet. (See also prediabetes.) Cataracts are the leading cause of overall vision loss, and a major study showed that consumption of animal products proportionally increased one’s risk of cataracts. The risk of developing another of the four leading causes of blindness, macular degeneration, can be lowered through a healthy, plant-based diet.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are two yellow-pigmented phytonutrients that help defend against macular degeneration and the fourth major cause of blindness, glaucoma, by strengthening the retinal pigment epithelium (RCE), or the layer of retina-protecting cells in our eyes. Greens are the best source of these nutrients. Berries, rich in blue and purple-pigmented phytonutrients known as anthocyanins, also may decelerate the aging process and may protect against other vision-related conditions such as computer eye strain.

Babies of women who took algae-based DHA supplements while pregnant may have significantly better vision at two months of age. Conversely, babies of women who ate significant amounts of licorice experienced visual problems as well as other physical and behavioral issues during childhood. Mercury may be a vision-impairing substance whose damaging effects are particularly pronounced in children. Drugs for erectile dysfunction may cause vision loss in men.

A plant-based diet appears to prevent and help manage diseases that can affect vision, such as multiple sclerosis and hypertension.

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