Eye Care and Macular Degeneration

Simple eye care supplements can improve your eye health and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision loss in people over 50.  it is a hardening of the arteries which nourish the retina,  depriving the retinal tissue of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function. Cataracts and decreasing night vision are also affected by the result of a loss of nourishment to aging eyes.

The 2 nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, are carotenoids which play a vital role in the health of our eyes.

Carotenoids are found in plants such as spinach, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, honeydew, and kiwi. A 1995 study showed that eating spinach and collard greens five or more times a week was found to noticeably reduce the risk of MD. (1)

In a 2004 study, lutein has been shown to not only help prevent, but to actually reverse symptoms of ARMD. Patients were supplemented daily with an OcuPower supplement capsule (containing 10 mg of crystalline FloraGLO lutein, 10 mg lutein plus a mixed antioxidant formula) for 12 months experienced significant improvements in glare recovery, contrast sensitivity, distance, and visual acuity in addition to a 50% increase in macular pigment density. (1)

In another study of over 4500 people, the higher the dietary intake of lutein/zeaxanthin, the greater the decrease in the likelihood of macular degeneration. (2)

Where can you find supplements if you prefer and what amounts are recommended?

Daily amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin are generally recommended at 20 mg of lutein and 6-10 mg of zeaxanthin. Lutein is easily available on the market in the recommended amount, either alone or as part of several brands of multi-supplements. Zeaxanthin is available in a single pill containing the recommended amount by only one company, ZeaVision (www.zeavision.com), which owns the patent. Other companies, however, offer zeaxanthin in pills containing up to 4 mg each, either alone (see www.swansonvitamins.com) or in combination with 30 mg of Vitamin C to assist in absorption (see www.biosyntrx.com). These 4 mg dosages can be safely doubled or tripled to obtain recommended amounts. (1)

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Other helpful eye care supplements:

-Bilberry contains 3 powerful antioxidants known to form collagen, repair tissue cells and blood vessels, and keep capillaries healthy, thus aiding in the prevention of free radical damage to eyes.

-Blueberries contain vitamin C and E, as well as other antioxidants. It is the fruit with the highest antioxidant activity.

-Grape seed extract is a natural plant substance with antioxidants that promote healthy circulation and protect from free radical damage.

-DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid in coldwater fish which is necessary for proper function of neural and ocular systems.

-M.D. Select Advanced Ocular Support offered by The Vitamin Shoppe contains a blend of lutein, zeaxanthin, bilberry, blueberry, grape seed extract and DHA. (4)

1. Macular Degeneration Support site
2. Medscape Medical News
3. List of other eye care supplements suggested by Dr. Ronald Hoffman, a pioneer in alternative medicine and host of the radio show “Health Talk.” Pg. 77, Healthy Awards, Fall 2008.
4. The Vitamin Shoppe is a chain store in the US but also online at
www.VitaminShoppe.com

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