You’re trying to get your weight down and build up a strong, beautiful body, so you’re loading your dinner plate with kale and broccoli and spinach. Bet you’ve never given much thought to how all that healthy eating will pay off one day in another vital area: your eyesight.

Look into a future when you’re keeping a watchful eye on your first grandbaby to make sure he doesn’t slip through his toddler ring in the shallow end of the pool. Then try to envision your life without vision just when your eyesight could be one of your greatest treasures.

That’s when you’re going to remember all the vegetables and fruits you’re eating now during your 20s and 30s as an important part of your beauty regimen. Most of us don’t know healthy eating during these years is also building a strong defense against the eye diseases that creep up on us later.

The Stats Tell the Story

Almost 3 million of us over the age of 40 in the United States have glaucoma. Half of us over the age of 65 develop cataracts. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and central vision loss among adults over age 65.

That’s a long way off for you, and you have plenty of time to fight.

Doctors tell us there’s no miracle pill to prevent eye diseases that come when our bodies age. But you can cheat cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration now. You can delay their onset and slow their progress.

The strongest defenders are the foods that nourish your body and overall health. Sounds just too easy to be true, doesn’t it? Just keep eating the good stuff.

Your doctor also wants you to stop smoking and drinking alcohol, but we can talk about that later. Right now we’ll concentrate on nutrition and vitamins. Your first impulse may be to run to the drugstore for vitamin supplements. But which ones will help?

Choose Your Weapon

Two studies conducted by the National Eye Institute point toward a combination supplement called AREDS2 to combat macular degeneration that has reached a medium level of progression. The approved AREDS2 formula contains these recommended daily dosages for eye health:  500 mg Vitamin C, 400 IU Vitamin E, 80 mg zinc, 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are good weapons fighting cataracts.

All these nutrients are readily available in plain old every day food. I’ve listed here food sources for each of the above recommendations. Spinach shows up on the list four times, kale is found three times, and broccoli and squash twice.

Save the money you would spend on that $24 over-the-counter bottle and splurge on papaya and blue berries, avocadoes and oysters. Load up on shitake mushrooms and fish. The American Optometric Association will help you with luscious Recipes for Healthy Eyes on their website.

Just as important as nutrition in your war against vision loss is detection, and you can’t do that by yourself. Go to your ophthalmologist for annual checkups. She will be able to see the onset of age-related eye diseases. You won’t notice symptoms until your vision has already been limited.

Here’s the formula: Strong, healthy body equals strong, healthy eyes equals lasting vision. You’ll see the rewards for a long time.