age-related macular degeneration
Recently, my mom was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). I had known for some time that her vision was not as good as it should be, but this was the worst possible news
Her doctor tried to put a positive spin on the analysis -. “You will only lose your central vision” – and I had not the heart to tell her that ARMD can take away her ability to read, write, sew and even navigate the stairs in their own homes. But my mother is not alone. ARMD is the most common cause of legal blindness in people over 60. In fact, it is so common that 28 percent of Americans over age 74 are affected by this disease
Here’s what happens to people with ARMD :. The area behind the retina called the macula, which controls fine vision, deteriorates, resulting in central vision and even blindness. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to guard against this potentially devastating condition -. And you might even be able to slow its progression if you’re in the same boat as my mom
We all know that carrots are good for vision – mainly because they are such a rich source of beta-carotene. But other carotenoids can have an even bigger impact on the visual health. He who gives you the most bang for your buck lutein.
primarily in spinach, corn and eggs, lutein is a normal part of the macular pigment, where it filters retina-damaging blue light portion of the sun’s rays. A thicker macular pigment provides greater protection than thinner macular pigment, and has been shown lutein supplements to increase the thickness of macular pigment.
In one study of US veterans, 90 patients with ARMD were randomized to receive either 10 mg. of lutein, lutein plus a multivitamin / mineral supplement that contains antioxidants like Vitamin C, Alpha Lipoic acid and bilberry, or placebo. After one year, the vets take lutein or lutein together with antioxidants had better macular pigment density and contrast sensitivity. They were also able to read more letters on a standard eye chart.
Pairing lutein with another carotenoid called zeaxanthin turns out to be even more effective in staving off ARMD. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group assessed 4.519 men aged 60 to 80, to take pictures of their retinas to determine whether they had ARMD, and if so, at what level. The participants also completed a food frequency questionnaire that measured how often they consumed foods rich in certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Among lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamins C and E.
Participants were then divided into five groups based on the amount of each nutrient they consume. Those who had the highest levels of lutein and zeaxanthin were significantly less likely than those with the lowest levels to have advanced ARMD. They were also less likely to have a yellow or white deposits on the retina -. Sure signs of ARMD
Although it is good to eat foods high in these two nutrients, take them in supplement form ensures that you are getting a steady dose – which is important if you are at risk or suffering from ARMD . Look for a supplement that contains at least 6 mg. of lutein and 5 mg. of zeaxanthin and be sure to take it with fat-containing food to improve absorption.
Increasing levels of lutein and zeaxanthin is one of the most effective ways to directly protect the eyes from ARMD. But increasing the total antioxidant levels also play an important role in vision health. A recent Dutch study has helped to confirm the results of certain vitamins prevent the onset and slow the progression of ARMD.
A previous study showed that intake up to 13 times the recommended daily intake of vitamins C and E as well as beta-carotene and zinc, slowing the progression of ARMD with an impressive 25 percent over five years. This new study not only confirmed these results, they found better results – 35 percent lower risk of ARMD in people who ate a diet containing large amounts of these nutrients. They also discover that people who eat diets that are low in these antioxidants have a 20 percent greater risk of developing ARMD.
Antioxidants such as selenium, vitamin E, vitamin C and quercetin may protect the retinal tissues from oxidative damage. And nutrients like zinc, taurine and Anthocyanosides directly affect the ocular tissues after stabilizing cell membranes and enhance vision.
While getting a paltry amount of carotenoids and other antioxidants can increase your chances of developing ARMD, there is new evidence that eating too much dietary fat can also increase the risk of ARMD. And it seems the biggest culprits are saturated fat, Trans fat and omega-6 fatty acids.
But there is one type of fat that offers protection. Scientists at the University of Melbourne recently pooled data from nine studies and found that a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of ARMD by up to 38 percent. Other studies have found that the balance of fatty acids in the eye can affect macular degeneration risk, possibly by affecting how inflammation.
One omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, can also help those who already suffer from this debilitating disease. According to researchers at the University of Rome, taking fish oil not only protected those who suffer from ARMD against further damage, it actually improved their vision of taking the supplement.
One Last Thing …
Even if you do not develop ARMD, modern life can adversely affect the eyes. Watching TV or working on the computer can reduce the amount of time we blink. This reduced the flashing can lead to excessive evaporation of tears. Known as dry eye syndrome (December), this condition afflicts more than 10 million Americans. Artificial tears provide only temporary relief. Expensive prescription drugs promise help, but at the cost of potentially serious side effects.
Fortunately, the same oil you are taking to prevent ARMD can also soothe dry eyes. In a recent study, which was part of the Women’s Cohort Study, found that women whose diets provided the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids had a 17 percent lower risk on Dec. However, women whose diets included a high proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids had more than twice the risk on Dec syndrome, compared to those with a more balanced fatty acid consumption.
So anoint those peepers by organizing fish for dinner. Eating fatty fish – as well as taking omega-3 supplements – twice a week can help prevent dryness and keep you “looking good” for life
This Just …
Want a healthy heart? Get some dental floss. Studies show that regular flossing and brushing teeth promotes good heart health. According to the Society of General Congress of Microbiology, bleeding gums associated with gum disease can significantly increase the incidence of heart disease. How? Infected gums allow over 700 different species of bacteria that form in the mouth to enter the bloodstream. When these toxins reach the bloodstream, they can give rise to a dilution of the arteries, which can eventually contribute to both heart disease and diabetes.
Last year, a study at the University of Connecticut showed that intensive Oral treatment period of six months could help to cut back on the frequency of endothelial dysfunction, which affects the lining of blood vessels. That means brushing, flossing and rinsing at least twice a day, preferably after every time you eat. But if you have bleeding or swollen gums, I would advise not to use one of those nifty battery-operated toothbrushes. It can irritate the gums and can even lead to receding gums
To reduce the growth of harmful bacteria, search toothpaste -. And especially mouthwash – which contains green tea. Gargling with green tea not only fights bad breath, and kills bacteria. Fluoride Tea makes teeth strong and effective against cavities and gingivitis. Can not find green tea mouthwash? Simply brew a cup, let it cool and gargle away
. “An Oral Approach to heart” MedicineNet. September 11, 2008.
Augood C. Oily fish consumption, dietary docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid intake, and associations with neovascular macular degeneration. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition . 2008; 88 :. 398-406
Chong EW-T. Omega-3 fatty acids and fish intake in the primary prevention of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Ophthalmology . 2008; 126 :. 826-833
Miljanovic B. Relations between dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and clinically diagnosed dry eye syndrome in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition . 2005 ; 82 :. 887-893
Richer S, et al. Double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of lutein and antioxidant supplements in the intervention atrophic age-related macular degeneration Veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial). Optometry . 2004; 75 :. 1-15