Thursday, November 29, 2012

Have You Seen Your Optometrist This Year?

A visit to the optometrist involves more than verifying if you need to wear glasses.  When you visit your optometrist, he or she also check your eye coordination and your ocular health.  The most likely eye diseases that any person living in the Western World will develop in their lifetime are:

Early diagnosis can prevent vision loss from all of these eye diseases.  So it's important to have your eyes checked by an optometrist regularly.

To find an optometrist near you visit the locations page of

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dr. Barb's Top Five Ways to Prepare Eggs

Eggs are an important Eyefood because egg yolks contain lutein that is readily absorbed by the body.   Eggs are also high in vitamin E, and omega-3 eggs contain DHA - all important eye nutrients.

The Eyefoods Plan recommends eating 2 eggs twice per week.  Dr. Barb offers up some inspiration for you as she shares her top five ways to prepare eggs.

1.  Poached eggs served atop whole-grain toast and topped with roasted peppers

2.  Scrambled eggs prepared with baby spinach

3.  Herbed goat cheese omelette prepared with tarragon, parsley and low fat goat cheese

4.  Hard boiled eggs enjoyed as a quick snack with freshly ground black pepper

5.  Spinach and sundried tomato quiche

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Butt Out to Prevent Vision Loss

Smoking Increases Your Risk for Blindness

Another reason to butt out.  Smoking is the number one modifiable risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  So, smoking can cause blindness.  In fact, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in the Western World and 8 million Americans either have AMD or are at high risk of developing AMD.

To put this into perspective.  There are 200,000 people currently living with lung cancer in the US (158,000 die of it each year). 

We all know that smoking causes lung cancer but not many people are aware that it can also cause AMD and vision loss.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dr. Barb's Top Five Family Friendly Eyefoods Meals

Are you getting tired of the same meals every week.  Dr. Barb offers up suggestions on how to nourish your eyes every day of the week with her favourite family friendly Eyefoods meals.

1.  Nicoise salad bar:  Spinach, hard boiled eggs, green beans, skinless boneless sardines and capers

  • Place each of these ingredients on their own platter and have your family prepare their own salad.

2.  Grilled chicken breast with sweet potatoes and coleslaw

  • Roast the sweet potatoes in the oven as you would prepare a baked potato.  Eat the skin also - it's full of fiber.

3.  Fish cakes with roasted broccoli

  • Toss the broccoli with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, place on a baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

4.  Orange pepper, dill and green onion frittata served with whole grain toast and Eyefoods green salad

  • Eggs aren't only for breakfast anymore.  This frittata can also be prepared as an omelette or even scrambled eggs.

5.  Beef and broccoli barley bowl

  • This asian inspired dish is loaded with zinc, lutein, vitamin C and fiber.  Click the link for a printable recipe.

To learn more about Eyefoods or to purchase a copy of the Eyefoods book visit

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dr. Barb's Top Five Grocery Staples

A simple way to ensure that you are including Eyefoods in your daily diet and eating to maintain healthy eyes is to make sure these staples are in your grocery cart every week.

If you happen to run into Dr. Barb at the grocery store or local farmer's market be sure to check out her cart and make sure it is full of these wonderful Eyefoods.

Dr. Barb's Top Five Eyefoods in Her Grocery Cart

1.  Kale

Eye Nutrients:  Lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc and fiber

2.  Orange Peppers

Eye Nutrients:  Zeaxanthin, lutein, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene

3.  Omega-3 Enriched Eggs

Eye Nutrients:  Vitamin E, lutein, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc

4.  Wild Alaskan Salmon Fillets (fresh or frozen)

Eye Nutrients:  Omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA)

5.  Broccoli

Eye Nutrients:  Lutein, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, fiber

To learn more about Eyefoods or to purchase a copy of the Eyefoods book visit

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dr. Barb's Top Five Foods for Smoothies

Dr. Barb's Top Five Foods for Smoothies

Smoothies are a great way to nourish your body with tasty Eyefoods.   Dr. Barb keeps her blender on her counter and whips up a batch of smoothies a couple of times per week.  Follow these simple tips to make a fool proof green smoothie.

Put the ingredients into the blender in this order:  Fruit on the bottom, greens on the top and water last.  Adjust the amount of water to get the consistency you like.

These are Dr. Barb’s Top Five Foods for Eye Healthy Smoothies 

(Include 2 or 3 in each smoothie)
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Spinach
  • Banana
  • Honeydew

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Diabetes and Your Eyes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month.  Did you know that diabetic retinopathy is one of the top four causes of vision loss in North America.  The International Diabetes Federation estimates that 1 in 10 North Americans has diabetes and this number is on the rise.

World Diabetes Day is November 14, 2012 - one week from today.  This year, the campaign is Diabetes: Protect Our Future.  The goal is to educate, engage and empower youth on diabetes and diabetes prevention.  Nutrition and lifestyle are intricately linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes and the management of diabetes.

Let us work together to decrease the number of people with vision loss from diabetes.

Visit this site to see how you can participate in World Diabetes Day 2012.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Turkey and Mango Orange Pepper Boats

Turkey & Mango Orange Pepper Boats
This dish is loaded with lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C and vitamin E

1 boneless, skinless turkey breast or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces (170g or 6 oz)
1 tbsp canola oil or olive oil
1 cup shelled edamame or frozen peas, thawed.
2 green onions, chopped
1 mango, peeled and sliced
¼ cup chopped cashews
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 orange peppers, seeds removed, cut in quarters
Salt & pepper

3 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp lime juice
Dash hot sauce
Dash sesame oil

1. Heat oil in a sauté pan.  Cook turkey or chicken breast on med-high heat until cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.
2. Bring frozen, shelled edamame to a boil  Remove from heat as soon as edamame float to the top of the water.  Drain and cool.
3. Mix edamame, green onion, mango, cashews and parsley in a bowl.  Add cooked turkey and mix ingredients together.  (This mixture can be made one hour to the day before and stored in the refrigerator.)
4. Mix all ingredients of dressing together in a small bowl or jar.  Add to the turkey mixture.
5. Spoon into pepper halves and top with chopped cashews. 

Enjoy cold or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beef and Broccoli Barley Bowl


Serves 2


Beef and Broccoli Barley Bowl

2 cups cooked barley           
1 tbsp canola oil
200 grams beef striploin or beef tenderloin, sliced
¼ cup red wine, sake or water
4 cups broccoli florets and stems (if using stems, peel away outer layer)
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp fresh or frozen ginger, grated
1 tbsp fresh or frozen cilantro, chopped

¼ cup  low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup low sodium beef stock
½ tsp wasabi
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp cornstarch

1. Cook barley according to package directions.
2. Prepare sauce by mixing soy sauce, beef stock, wasabi, lime juice, honey and pepper
in a medium bowl.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, stirring well until cornstarch dissolves. Set aside.
   3. Add canola oil to a hot sauté pan.  Add beef and sear on high heat for 1-2 minutes or until the outside is browned and the inside is still pink, turn and sear the second side
the same way.  Add red wine, sake or water, stirring well. 
4. Add broccoli, orange pepper, carrots, ginger, cilantro and sauce.  Reduce heat to
med-high and stir-fry until broccoli is tender but still vibrant in colour, approximately
3-5 minutes.
5. Add cooked barley.  Cook for another minute, stirring well.
6. Remove from heat and enjoy.

Makes 2 meal-sized servings.

Note:  Adjust the level of spiciness by altering the amount of wasabi in the sauce.  I often mix soy sauce and wasabi in a separate bowl so everyone can add it to there own plate according to their palate.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Beta-Carotene was included in the original Age-Related Eye Disease Study formulation. 

Since AREDS 1, scientific studies have shown that supplementation with beta-carotene can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers. High levels of beta-carotene in the body can compete with lutein for transport to the tissues. As a result of these findings, AREDS 2 is investigating the effects of a supplement without beta-carotene.

Beta-carotene from food is safe and is important to maintain eye health. Sweet potatoes and carrots have an important place in an eye-friendly diet.

Palozza P, Serini S, Di Nicuolo F. Beta-carotene exacerbates DNA oxidative damage and modifies p53-related pathways of cell proliferation and apop- tosis in cultured cells exposed to tobacco smoke condensate. Carcinogenesis. 2004;25:1315-25.
Mannisto S, Smith-Warner SA, Spiegelman D. Dietary carotenoids and risk of lung cancer in a pooled analysis of seven cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004;13:40–48. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-038-3.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Zinc is an essential mineral that has antioxidant properties. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) showed that supplementation with zinc decreased the risk of progression of AMD.

The recommended dietary allowance for zinc is 8 mg per day for women and 11 mg per day
for men.

High levels of zinc (80mg) in original AREDS formula has been showed to cause GI distress and urinary tract infections. AREDS 2 is studying the effects of decreasing the dose (25mg).

Include foods high in zinc in your diet to decrease your risk for AMD.  Foods high in zinc are oysters, lean beef, turkey breast, and nuts and seeds.

 Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group (AREDS). 2001. A randomized, placebo- controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss. Arch ophthalmol 119: 1417-36.

Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2. The lutein/zeaxanthin and omega-3 supplementation trial.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Part 2

Omega-6 to Omega-3 Balance

Eating cold-water fish on a regular basis (3-4 serving per week) increases the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.  However, you must watch the amount of omega-6 fatty acids (pro-inflammatory) you consume to reap the benefits of your fish intake.

The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 intake is 4:1 or less.  Yet, the typical omega- 6 to omega-3 ratio is 15:1 because omega-6 fatty acids are over- abundant in the standard North American diet.

Follow a diet that focuses on healthy fats (especially cold water fish) and avoids processed foods to help to improve their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

To learn more about Eyefoods or to purchase a copy of the Eyefoods book visit

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Omega 3 Fatty Acids - Part 1

Important Facts about Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties and are part of the vision pathway to the brain.

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is an essential fatty acid that cannot be synthesized by the body and is found in flax, walnuts and chia seeds. The body converts ALA to the longer chain fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA(docosahexaenoic acid).  The real benefits from omega 3s come from EPA and DHA. The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is not an efficient process in the body. 

Foods that contain EPA and DHA, especially cold-water fish, are the best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Today is World Sight Day

The World Health Organization, Vision 20/20 and the International Agency for the prevention of Blindness recognize the  2nd Thursday of October as World Sight Day.  The purpose of this day is to increase the global awareness of blindness and sight threatening eye disease as major international health issues.

Vision 2020 is an initiative that works with government agencies, civil groups and professional organizations to eliminate avoidable blindness worldwide by 2020.  

285 million people are blind or visually impaired worldwide.

Have you had your eyes checked this year?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Eyefoods Nut Mix

The eyefoods nut mix contains the ideal balance of important eye nutrients found in nuts.
Make a large jar of this nut mix and enjoy one handful per day. 

To download a printable copy of this recipe click here.

1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped cashews
1 cup pumpkin seeds


1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Transfer to a glass jar or storage container.

Tip: Store in the refrigerator for 2-4 weeks. Makes 3 ½ cups or a party sized bowl

Thursday, October 4, 2012


AREDS 2 (Age-related Eye Disease Study )commenced in 2006 and we expect the results in 2013. Numerous other studies on nutrition and age-related macular degeneration have shown the benefit of lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3s, and raised questions about beta-carotene and high zinc levels.  As a result, many optometrists and ophthalmologists are recommending eye supplements similar to that used for AREDS 2 even now.

If you have AMD and are taking an eye vitamin ask your optometrist or ophthalmologist which supplement is best for you.

These are the main differences from AREDS 1:
  The addition of 10mg lutein and 2mg zeaxanthin
   The addition of omega-3 fatty acids:  (650mg EPA, 350mg DHA)
   The elimination of beta-carotene
   The reduction of zinc from 80mg to 25mg

For more information visit 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chicken and Almond Lettuce Wraps

Eyefoods can be fun and tasty! This appetizer can be served at a dinner party or to your family as lunch. Have each person assemble his or her own wrap for extra fun. This recipe is loaded with both lutein and zeaxanthin.  Click here to download a printable copy of this recipe.

­            Ingredients
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts,
   cooked and pulled into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp canola or olive oil
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 orange pepper, chopped
2 green onion, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 large orange, peeled with a knife, quartered and sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Chopped Leaf lettuce leaves, Romaine lettuce leaves or
   kale leaves, washed and dried completely
1.             Mix poultry, peas, pepper, green onion, orange, almonds and cilantro in a bowl.
2.             In a separate bowl, combine almond butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey and hot sauce.
3.             Add 2 tablespoons hot water and stir well. If sauce is too thick, add another tablespoon hot
            water. Continue until the sauce has the consistency of a thick salad dressing.
4.             Use 2 tablespoons of the sauce as dressing for the poultry mix. Toss gently to combine.
5.             Separate remaining dipping sauce into an individual bowl or ramekin for each person.
6.             Spoon chicken mixture into a lettuce or kale leaf and fold. Enjoy with the dipping sauce.

Tips: The chicken mixture can be refrigerated for up to two days. Serve cold or warm.
Optional zeaxanthin boost: garnish with goji berries.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Three Retinal Pigments

Lutein, zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin

Lutein, zeaxanthin and  meso-zeaxanthin are macular pigments that absorb blue light and protect the retina from oxidative damage while improving visual performance. Our bodies cannot synthesize lutein and zeaxanthin, but we can metabolize meso-zeaxanthin from lutein in the absence of zeaxanthin.
The average North American receives only 1 mg lutein per day from their diet.  Scientists believe that we need between 6mg and 10mg of lutein per day to maintain a healthy retina and prevent the progression of AMD.

Consume foods that are high in both lutein and zeaxanthin every day.

Foods high in lutein:  Leafy green vegetables, eggs
Foods high in zeaxanthin: Orange peppers, goji berries
Meso-zeaxanthin is not commonly found in food

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kale: The Lutein Powerhouse

One leaf of kale contains 10mg of lutein.  An excellent way to add kale to your daily diet is to make Dr. Barb’s Green Smoothie.

2 cups packed kale leaves, washed and coarsely chopped
2 ripe kiwis, peeled and quartered
1 cup sweet green grapes (or 1 banana)
Juice of one lime
1 cup filtered water
1.             Put grapes in blender. Twirl until blended.
2.             Add kiwis, kale and water. Blend until smooth.
3.             Check consistency and add water as needed.
4.             Taste; flavor will vary depending on how sweet the kiwis and grapes are.   Adjust accordingly.
5.             If too tart, omit the lime juice and add grapes.
6.             If sweet, add lime juice.
Tips: If kiwis are quite sweet, you will get more eye nutrients by using more kiwis and less grapes or bananas. If using bananas, adding lime juice is essential to reduce oxidation (browning) of the smoothie. Enjoy immediately and keep leftovers in individual reusable bottles in the fridge for up to four days. Before drinking leftovers, shake well.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blue Light and The Eye

Blue light causes oxidative stress to the retina, especially in people with low macular pigment optical density (MPOD).  Blue light also causes visual disturbance.

Wear sunglasses that filter blue light for AMD prevention and enhanced visual performance.

Drobek-Slowik, M., Karczewicz, D., and Safranow, K. 2007. The potential role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of the age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Postepy Hig Med Dosw 61:28-37 (ISSN: 1732-2693).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quit Smoking

Smoking is the number one modifiable risk factor for AMD.

Current smokers are 45% more likely to develop early AMD or AMD progression over 15 years compared to people that have never smoked.

On the Road to Quitting:  Guide to becoming a non-smoker

Klein, Further observations on the association between smoking and the long-term incidence and progression of AMD, 115-21.