When asked about their most feared health concerns seniors are most worried about going blind or the inevitable diminishing of vision that accompanies old age. Studies now show that life style changes, proper diet and nutrients can protect against age related vision loss. During my last eye exam I asked the doctor which nutrients and dietary plans should I follow to maintain healthy eyes. He explained that other than periodic exams there was nothing else I could take to protect my vision. Protecting ones vision should be a priority, since age related macular degeneration, referred to as ARMD, is the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Diabetic retinopathy is also a major cause of blindness among those people afflicted with type 2 diabetes. Cataracts, which is a clouding of the eye lens, is also a leading cause of vision loss in older adults.
Studies show that eye drops containing Carnosine, an amino acid, can inhibit cataracts by protecting against the formation of the lens proteins that impairs vision. ARMD is a deterioration of the macular, which is that part of the retina that enables us to see in fine detail. ARMD affects central vision needed for recognizing faces, driving and reading. The blurriness and darkness makes it difficult to carry out normal daily activities. There are two forms of ARMD, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is the most common form and affects 90 percent of those afflicted with the disease.
The wet form of ARMD affects the remaining 10 percent and is the aggressive form and can cause major vision loss within two to three years. It’s reported that there is no treatment to cure ARMD and the severe vision loss. However, there are published studies from Dr. Phillip J. Rosenfield MD, PhD, associate professor, Department of Ophthalmology, at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute on treating the wet form of ARMD with colorectal cancer drug Avastin. Since the discovery doctors have injected small, single quantity doses of Avastin, successfully, in the eyes of 7000 patients with notable improvements within a week.
Inflammation has a devastating effect on our overall health, causing widespread chronic illnesses, from cataracts to cancer. Researchers have reported to the Archives of Ophthalmology that high levels of the inflammation marker, C-reactive protein CRP, in people with macular degeneration. Antioxidants reverse the inflammatory affects reflected in higher levels or CRP.
In a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association investigators found high dose supplementation with beta carotene, vitamins C, E and Zinc was shown to slow the progression of ARMD. The essential fatty acids in omega 3 fish oils help to prevent dry eye symptoms. The study conducted in Netherlands with 10,275 people over the age of 55 also revealed that high dietary intake of vitamin and zinc was associated with a lower of incident ARMD.
There is a wide range of foods that protect ARMD, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy,. Carotenoids are the pigments found in colorful fruits and vegetables. Lutein and zeaxanthin, which is found in the eyes, can be can also be found in leafy vegetables, eggs, green peas, corn, zucchini which have been promoted for their antioxidant qualities. Try to get at least two serving per day of leafy vegetables, to ensure you get enough of the daily requirements. Red wine has been shown to help prevent cataracts. Billberry, ginkgo biloba, green tea, fish kale, spinach and grape seed has been shown to retard the progression of cataracts, ARMD and diabetic retinopathy. The superhero of antioxidant is the grape officially known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins or more commonly as OPC, the substance in plants that protects them from free radical damage from sun light. Free radicals are a natural by-product from normal metabolism but when the body is overburdened with them, or simply get out of control, they create a condition in the body known as oxidative stress which leads to disease, sickness and the acceleration of the aging process.
Think of the oxidation process like an apple that turns brown, or piece of raw meat turning rancid after being left out, or rust on a car when exposed to inclement weather. Antioxidants like those found in OPC’s (like grape seed extract) helps protect us from cellular damage caused by free radicals and a variety of other environmental substances, including sunlight.