A new study finds it could protect women from macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
47 year old Dorrette Wright was surprised to learn during a routine eye exam that she has the early stages of macular degeneration.
"It was pretty scary. I thought actually that initially, down the line, sooner rather than later that my sight will be gone," said Wright.
Now research shows a diet rich in Vitamin D could have helped prevent the onset of disease in Wright's retinas.
A new study in the "Archives of Opthamology" shows women under 75 who have higher levels of vitamin D in their blood are less likely to develop macular degeneration later in life.
"My theory is that vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties. And inflammation has played a big part in macular degeneration," said Dr. Shantan Reddy with the NYU Langone Medical Center.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. It affects 1 in 10 Americans over 40, that's some 8.5 million people.
Doctors say a healthy dose of sun is still the best way to get vitamin D in the bloodstream, but the study finds just sun isn't enough.
"The way to increase it to the levels that are protective, we need to eat properly. Eat vitamin D rich foods," said Dr. Reddy.
Foods include leafy vegetables or fish that are heavy in vitamin D.
Wright is a vegetarian, and is now doing more to maintain vitamin D in her blood.
The hope is that with the help of vitamin D, she can maintain her eyesight for years to come.
Smoking and family history of macular degeneration can all increase your chances of developing the disease.