Herbs have been widely used throughout Asia and India for centuries. And during the past few decades they’ve gained traction in Western cultures as a way to treat and prevent a host of health issues including migraines and inflammation. Scientists are now eyeing the flavorful backbones of soups, sauces and stews as a way to protect eye health and preserve vision.

According to the National Institutes of Health age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in those 60 and older. Although it’s not painful, AMD slowly robs a person of their central vision making it difficult, and eventually impossible, to perform tasks like reading and driving. AMD is a progressive disease and most patients eventually lose all, or most of, their eyesight.

Common causes of AMD include:

  • A high fat diet

  • Obesity

  • High blood pressure

  • Exposure to the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays

But rosemary and sage appear to hold hope for those at risk for AMD.

Several studies have already connected carnosic acid, a compound in rosemary and sage, with a reduced risk of several cancers and the ability to protect your skin against the sun’s damaging ultra violet A (UVA) rays.

And now team of researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute say carnosic acid may also have protective qualities that benefit the eyes. Previously, the Sanford-Burnham team conducted research that found carnosic acid can protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals, the organisms that age and damage cells.

It appears that carnosic acid is able to act like an anti-oxidant in the cells of the eye to lessen the impact of free radicals and protect eye health.

Keeping an eye on spices

Sage and rosemary have hundreds of possible applications in the kitchen.

Rosemary is a popular partner to poultry, red meat and potatoes. You use fresh herb by trimming the needles from the stalk and chopping or mincing them or dried rosemary added whole to recipes.

Popular in stuffing, sage also pairs nicely with pork and poultry. Or mix it with melted butter for a smooth and quick pasta sauce. Just stick to either fresh or rubbed sage to infuse the most flavor in recipes. Dry ground sage typically offers less flavor because of how the leaves are processed.

Here are some great recipes that include rosemary and sage:
Lemon-Rosemary Turkey Meatballs
Grilled Rosemary-Salmon Skewers
Lemon Sage Turkey
Sage and Onion Stuffing

To learn more on this topic:
Preventing Vision Loss from Diabetes
Cataracts and Glaucoma: The Other Diabetic Eye Complications
7 Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy You Shouldn’t Ignore