Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of significant vision loss in older people. Cumulative oxidative and inflammatory stress is thought to play a role in AMD. Micro-nutrients are vital for eye health, but you will never see an optician giving nutritional advice, they just want to sell glasses, contact lenses and offer laser treatments. The perfect treatment in the medical world is one that's expensive and that needs to taken for the rest of your life; glasses and contact lenses are intended for lifetime use and only treat the symptoms and never the cause.
Modern living has taken its toll on our eyes, as we are constantly looking at blue light sources such as computer screen, TVs and mobile phones.
The retina contains molecules that undergo a chemical change upon absorbing light. The light image is mapped on the surface of the retina by activating a series of light-sensitive cells known as rods and cones (photoreceptors). The rods and cones convert the light into electrical impulses which are transmitted to the brain. The retina is lined with many millions of photoreceptor cells that consist of two types. 7 million cones provide colour information and sharpness of images and 120 million rods which are extremely sensitive detectors of white light to provide night vision. The tops of the rods and cones contain a region filled with membrane-bound discs, which contain the molecule cis-retinal bound to a protein called opsin. The precursor of vitamin A is present in the variety of plant carotene. Vitamin A is critical for vision because it is needed by the retina of the eye. As light enters the eye, the 11-cis-retinal changes it's geometry. The chemistry involved is simply breathtaking, the new form of trans-retinal does not fit as well into the protein and so a series of geometry changes in the protein begins. As the protein changes its geometry, it initiates a cascade of biochemical reactions that results in changes in charge so that a large potential difference builds up across the plasma membrane. This potential difference is passed along to an adjoining nerve cell as an electrical impulse. So as you are reading this, billions of chemical reaction are being performed every second in your eyes.
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) was a large randomised clinical trial, found that participants at high risk of developing advanced AMD reduced their risk of developing advanced AMD by 25% by taking a daily supplement containing beta-carotene (a pre-cursor of vitamin A, 15 mg), vitamin E , vitamin C (500 mg), zinc (80 mg), and copper (2 mg) for 5 years compared to participants taking a placebo. The later AREDS2 study confirmed that lutein and zeaxanthin were the critical ingredients.
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids. Zeaxanthin is an antioxidant carotenoid found in your retina which cannot be made by your body. You must get zeaxanthin from your diet. Lutein is found in your macular pigment, which helps protect your central vision and aids in blue light absorption. Both zeaxanthin and lutein are also found in high concentrations in your macula lutea, the small central part of your retina responsible for detailed central vision. The best vegetable sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are green leafy vegetables and other green or yellow vegetables. Among these, spirulina, kale and spinach top the list.
While there’s no recommended daily intake for lutein and zeaxanthin, studies have found health benefits for lutein at a dose of 10mg per day and at 2mg/day for zeaxanthin. Pasture fed eggs range from 1-3mg of lutetin and 0.7-1.5mg of zeaxanthin.
Glutathione and eye health
Glutathione is a huge nutritional factor for eye health. Glutathione is a natural antioxidant produced within all living cells. Numerous studies link glutathione with the prevention of cataracts, glaucoma, retinal disease and diabetic blindness. It detoxifies the aqueous fluid of the inner eye and may helps to maintain adequate fluid outflow. Glutathione exists in high concentrations in the eye lens and it's essential in maintaining its transparency. Glutathione levels decline in the lens as you get older.
Glutathione is a short chain of 3 amino acids that plays several vital roles in the body. Every cell in our body produces glutathione and it’s the most important antioxidant. Glutathione is capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals. Glutathione is synthesised in the body from the amino acids L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid and glycine and we can get it from certain foods. It is not advisable to take a glutathione supplement, your should instead take the building blocks for glutathione. Read more about glutathione here...
Vitamin E eye health
Vitamin E is believed to protect eye cells from unstable free radicals, which break down healthy eye tissue. This is what may lead to the formation of cataracts or age-related macular degeneration. Although vitamin E sounds like a single substance, it is actually the name of eight related compounds in food, including alpha-tocopherol. Each form has a different potency, or level of activity in the body.
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