and Your Eyes
In a time of plenty and prosperity in the country you may find it surprising that according to the American Journal of Public health, only about 12% of adults in the U.S. eat enough fruits and vegetables. Even the RDA recommendations call fall short of satisfying one’s personal nutritional requirements based on age, medications and chronic medical conditions.
The resulting poor nutrition can affect the body in many ways and one way is how it affects your eyes and vision. These conditions include cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, dry eyes and many others. Below you will find some of the most current thinking regarding nutrition and your eyes.
In this condition, the most vital portion of the retina (macular region), which governs our central vision, undergoes progressive functional, morphological, physiological, and structural changes. The causative agents are theorized to be oxidative stress via light damage and/or a reduction in number or function of pigmented scavenger cells (RPE) responsible for removal (phagocytosis) of metabolic debris from the photoreceptor layer of the retina. A reduction in cell number can cause a build-up of heat within the retina thus making it more susceptible to oxidative changes which leads to a reduction in protective nutrients, enhanced free-radical production, and lipofucin build-up, all of which are detrimental to normal retinal status.
Damage done by this disease is rarely reversible so prevention is your best weapon against this one. Fewer rates of occurrence have been documented with cessation of smoking and increased activity levels such as walking three times a week for 20 minutes or more. In addition it is also recommended to shield the eyes from the dangerous rays of the sun with UV blocking glasses and a cap.
ARMD can be slowed with eating dark green vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, green peas and brussel sprouts which are all substances high in lutein. Zinc supplements of 30mg twice a day along with beta carotene are also thought to be helpful.
Lutein dietary supplement is believed by some to provide protection for the fovea, our central vision, by absorbing the harmful blue ultraviolet light. This absorption is nearly 40% reduction of blue light. The antioxidant properties of lutein help to prevent damage caused by light and oxygen. Several studies have concluded that intake of these carotenoids have lowered the chances of neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Numerous other studies have established the benefits of dark green, red and yellow vegetables and yellow fruits for the prevention of lung, colon, and other cancers. These studies have contributed their relevance in part to the amount of lutein in the dietary intake of these vegetables and fruits. The Food and Drug Administration has not established recommended daily allowances for carotenoids, but the average lutein intake among U.S. adults is 0.6 to 0.8 mg/day.
Glaucoma: This disease is usually related to high pressures in the eye. Though the damage done by glaucoma is irreversible it does respond remarkably well to treatment especially if caught early. Fortunately treatment can be as simple as one drop per day in the affected eye. Use of vitamin B12, magnesium coupled with regular exercise has been shown to help lower eye pressure.
Diabetes: There is no question that a proper diet can make the difference in how much diabetes affects the body. The better control of the blood sugar level directly correlates to the level and severity of diabetic retinopathy that sometimes develops. Vitamin C and magnesium supplements are thought to help reduce the level of retinopathy.
Dry eyes: Dry eyes are another common complaint associated with mature persons. The tears are composed of three basic layers (aqueous, lipid and mucin layers) each of which must be present in exact proportions to provide a smooth and comfortable ocular surface. All are rich in proteins, minerals, and vitamins. However, as we all age, the relative contribution of each component changes in tear layer nutrients. As a result of these changes, many people report a scratchy or dry sensation in their eyes, or may even complain of fluctuating vision.
The most direct answer to these problems is to replenish or to help revitalize components necessary to maintain optimal ocular functions and health. Specific amino acids, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins may be properly introduced via topical applications or nutritional supplements. Please see our Dry Eye page for further information.
HydroEye™ (non-prescription supplement) is a unique proprietary blend of omega-6 fatty acids, mucin complex, and nutrient cofactors that addresses the root causes of dry eye syndrome. This powerful combination helps prevent drying and atrophy of the tear glands while supporting proper tear secretion by promoting the normal structure and function of the lachrymal glands, conjunctival goblet cells, and the mucin network. For more information click HydroEye dry eye formula.
Hydroeye™ is formulated with pharmaceutical-grade ingredients in capsule form for maximum potency and bioavailablility, and is free of common allergens, artificial flavors, and colors.
Other substances that may be helpful in maintaining proper health for the eyes include Selenium 50 mg/day, Inositol 500 mg/day, Panthothene 900 mg/day. There are products on the market that are specifically designed for the eye, look for them at your local supermarket or drug store.
As with anything, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. Moderation, following the RDA guidelines, and the information above would be best. When in doubt consult your family practice physician on a program best suited to your medical needs.
Final Note: Of course the best way of prevention is to see your eye doctor for regular eye exams, especially if there are eye diseases present in the family or you have noticed a recent change in your vision. Your local eye care provider is trained in the detection of these diseases and may be able to help you long before your vision becomes affected.
Now go eat your fruits and vegetables!!