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10 Super Foods to Protect Vision

They fight glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts

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5. Orange bell peppers

These peppers are the best dietary source of zeaxanthin, the other carotenoid that concentrates in the back of the eye. The higher the level of carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, the lower the risk for cataracts and macular degeneration. Orange bell peppers have a lot of vitamin C and more zeaxanthin per mouthful than any food on the planet, Pratt says. Other orange foods — including gogi berries, pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes and carrots — may have similar benefits. These orange-colored choices also are chock-full of vitamin A, which boosts night vision. And they contain a carotene that helps lower the risk of cataracts.

6. Broccoli

Broccoli activates anti-inflammatory enzymes in the body and acts to encourage detoxification. Other vegetables like Brussels sprouts and cabbage rev up these enzymes. Broccoli also triggers anti-inflammatory systems that help decrease inflammation in the back of the eye.

7. Tea

Green tea, black tea and oolong tea are best for preventing cataracts. Teas may help prevent macular degeneration, too, by preventing the growth of new blood vessels in the back of the eye, Pratt says. When too many new blood vessels grow beneath the retina, they leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes permanent damage and results in blind spots and serious loss of vision from "wet" macular degeneration.

8. Soy

New research shows that soy — especially soy milk, soy sauce, miso and tempeh — are rich in isoflavones, compounds with powerful antioxidant properties that protect against cataract formation in animals. Isoflavones also may help restore tear production that's been reduced by dry eye syndrome, according to a 2010 study.

Next: Try these eye-friendly recipes. »

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AARP fitness expert Martina Navratilova advises a diet of plant-based foods in their raw state to get the full dose of beneficial nutrients.

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