Foods to help fight vision loss

Growing up, you were probably told to eat carrots for your eyesight. The latest science shows that's good advice, as eating the right diet can help prevent a common cause of vision loss.

"Carrots are actually just one of the many foods and supplements that contribute to good eye health," James McDonnell, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Loyola University Health System, said in a press statement. "In some cases, eyesight can actually be improved depending on what you eat."

Researchers have found that certain foods can help prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness and vision problems for people middle aged and older. Macular degeneration affects an estimated 1.8 million Americans over the age of 40, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number is expected to rise to 2.95 million by the end of the decade.

"The side effects are terrible. They're debilitating. You can't read. You can't drive. You can't see your loved ones," cookbook author Jennifer Trainer Thompson told CBS New Orleans affiliate WWL.

Thompson and Dr. Johanna Seddon, a leading eye doctor and researcher, teamed up to write the cookbook "Eat Right for Your Sight," a guide to help you protect your sight beginning in your kitchen.

"If you take away one thing from this cookbook, it's the new holy trinity of food: three different colors a day," said Thompson.

Think of the red in peppers and pomegranates; the purple in beets; the green in leafy green veggies; and the yellow in butternut squash. That's where the nutrients are found for eye health. Vitamins A and E, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold water fish, make a direct impact on your sight.

"I would say that it's a fresh diet. And I would say that my hallmark as a cookbook writer is I like recipes that are easy, simple to prepare. They don't require a lot of fuss and that they have lively flavors," Thompson said.

Some examples include adding kale into a blueberry smoothie or hiding some pureed beets in chocolate cupcakes with chocolate yogurt frosting. Foods are also paired, like spinach and oranges for maximum absorption of iron and vitamin C.

"The chair of the foundation of the American Macular Degeneration Foundation was diagnosed at age 39. He is now in 60's and after two decades of eating well, and trying to eliminate other risk factors, he can still drive and read and he's a walking testament to the fact that you are what you eat," Thompson said.

The cookbook "Eat Right for Your Sight" is a project of the American Macular Degeneration Foundation.