Summer’s here, the days are long. It’s warm and sunny – most of the time! Everything’s green; this is the season that we get great fresh fruit and vegetables that are locally grown. It’s a wonderful time of year. With the long sunny days, we need to think about protecting our eyesight and making sure it stays good as we age. I’m sure you know that you should wear sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection, and never look directly at the sun. But there are many other things we can do to prevent loss of vision.
The most common cause of blindness in older people is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Another common cause of vision loss, usually in older people, is cataracts. In fact, the most common cause of vision loss and blindness for all ages, worldwide, is glaucoma. There is much that can be done to prevent AMD and cataracts. Early detection, treatment and being proactive can prevent glaucoma.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
One in 3 Americans over the age of 75 develops AMD and similar figures likely hold true for Canadians. With the aging of the baby-boomers, and the increase in life expectancy, the incidence of vision problems will be dramatic in Canada as well as the US. AMD is a condition in which the macula, the central and most important part of the retina, degenerates. There are 2 forms of AMD. In atrophic (dry) macular degeneration, a pigment is deposited in the macula without any evidence of scars, blood or other fluid leakage. In exudative (wet) macular degeneration, leaked material (exudate) forms a mound, often surrounded by small hemorrhages. Eventually the mound contracts, leaving a scar. Both forms of AMD usually affect both eyes at the same time.
AMD slowly or suddenly produces a painless loss of vision. Sometimes the first symptom is a distortion in 1 eye, so that fine, straight lines appear wavy. Sometimes physical changes in the eye can be seen by a health care professional before symptoms are evident.
AMD doesn’t cause total blindness, but it can destroy all but peripheral vision, and the ability to see colour.
A cataract is a cloudiness (opacity) in the eye’s lens that impairs vision. Loss of vision is progressive but painless. The extent to which vision deteriorates depends on where the cataract is located, and how dense (mature) it is. Bright lights cause the pupil to constrict, narrowing the cone of light entering the eye. This makes it less likely that the light can pass around the cataract, and people with cataracts often see halos around lights. When vision is severely impaired, surgery can remove the lens of the eye and replace it with an artificial plastic or silicone lens.
Glaucoma refers to eye diseases that affect the optic nerve and cause loss of vision. In most cases, there is elevated pressure inside the eye, called intraocular pressure (IOP). Elevated IOP is the most important risk factor for glaucoma, although glaucoma can occur without elevated IOP. It occurs when fluid builds up in the eye, either because the eye produces too much fluid or because the fluid doesn’t drain well.
At first, people with glaucoma lose peripheral (side) vision. If the disease is not treated, vision loss may get worse and eventually lead to total blindness.
The 2 main types of glaucoma are closed-angle and open-angle.
- In closed-angle glaucoma, the normal drainage canals within the eye are blocked. Closed-angle glaucoma can be acute (sudden) or chronic (long-lasting). In acute closed-angle glaucoma, a sudden increase in IOP occurs because of the buildup of fluid called aqueous humor. This is considered an emergency because optic nerve damage and vision loss can occur within hours of the onset of the problem. Chronic closed-angle glaucoma may cause vision damage without symptoms.
- In open-angle glaucoma, the drainage remains open. It may also cause vision loss without symptoms.
Other types of glaucoma include congenital glaucoma and secondary glaucoma. Congenital glaucoma usually appears soon after birth, although it may occur later in the first year of life. It is more common in boys, and often has noticeable symptoms that can include watery eyes, light sensitivity, and cloudiness of the cornea. It can affect one or both eyes. Secondary glaucoma may be the result of an eye injury or other medical condition. With secondary glaucoma treatment is aimed at the underlying cause as well as reducing pressure within the eye.
- Researcher Allen Taylor noticed that the lens of the eye turns brown much as an apple turns brown – both due to oxidation of carbohydrates. Analysis of data from the US Nurses’ Health Study was conducted to explore how carbohydrates in the diet affect vision. The results indicated that women who consumed a diet with a relatively high glycemic index (GI) had a greater risk of developing signs of early AMD than those with a lower-GI diet. Foods with a high GI include white bread and other refined carbohydrates, white rice and potatoes. Lower-GI carbohydrates include whole grains, brown rice, lentils, and yams. These findings were confirmed by a more recent study, the US National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study. It concluded that 20% of the AMD cases diagnosed by the study could have been prevented by a low-GI diet. A further 7.8% of new cases over the following 5 years could also be prevented with the same dietary modification.
- Earlier analyses of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that high levels of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc significantly reduced the risk of advanced AMD in those at greatest risk. The researchers added copper to offset zinc’s effect on the body’s copper absorption.
- The Age-Related Eye Disease Study also found that high dietary levels of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin significantly lowered the risk of AMD compared to low levels. These antioxidants are found in egg yolks and in vegetables including broccoli, zucchini, Romaine lettuce, corn, peas, and dark leafy greens. Study participants who consumed high levels of these antioxidants in their diet had healthier or “younger” eyes, and were less likely to have evidence of AMD.
- Avoiding refined carbohydrates (including sugars except those occurring naturally in fruits and some vegetables) and eating a diet rich in antioxidants also helps to prevent cataracts.
- Drink 8 glasses of water a day to help maintain the flow of nutrients to the lens, and to release wastes and toxins from tissues.
- In an analysis combining several studies, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish were associated with a 33% reduction in risk of more advanced AMD, and a 24% reduction in early AMD (in just 2 of the studies), in people who ate fish at least twice a week. Dietary DHA and EPA were both linked with reductions in risk of AMD; however, alpha-linolenic acid (in nuts and flaxseed, for example) was actually associated with an increase in risk of early AMD While more research is needed, there is a strong rationale, particularly for the protective effect of DHA, since it forms an integral part of the layer of nerve cells in the retina. Outer cells of the retina are continually shed and regenerated, so a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids could possibly initiate AMD.
Other preventive measures
- Don’t smoke. Smoking has been linked with both AMD and cataracts. Physical activity may help protect against AMD. Regular exercise 3 or more times per week has been shown to reduce the risk of AMD by as much as 70%.
- Wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet light may help prevent cataracts.
- Take care of other medical problems: if you have diabetes or other medical conditions, they can increase your risk of cataracts.
- Have regular eye exams. Early detection is most important for glaucoma, and no one is risk free, particularly as we get older. Glaucoma can be treated, but it can progress without a person realizing it, so eye exams are especially important.
There are a number of Nature’s Sunshine supplements that can help prevent vision loss. While some of the antioxidants are not the specific antioxidants shown to reduce AMD, all antioxidants are anti-inflammatory, and should have a beneficial effect.
Green Tea Extract
contains catechins, powerful antioxidants that are 200 times stronger than vitamin E at neutralizing free radicals—molecules that attack lipids in the brain and other tissues. Green tea also possesses antimicrobial properties (immune system support), helps normalize vascular blood clotting and total cholesterol, and supports healthy kidney function. Each capsule contains 400 mg of standardized green tea extract (80% polyphenols, 60% catechins, 30% EGCG).
Our eyes are constantly exposed to sunlight and artificial lighting which produce free radicals that can damage cells. After middle age, our natural antioxidant production decreases, and the protective pigments in our eyes change. Perfect Eyes gives your eyes the nutritional support they need to protect against free radical damage. This formula contains lutein, an important antioxidant that may diminish the effects of age-related macular degeneration, and N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC). Aging bodies can easily convert NAC into the eye-protecting antioxidant glutathione, defending the eye from harmful free radicals. Perfect Eyes also contains bilberry fruit, curcuminoids powder extract, eyebright herb, alpha and beta carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin, zinc gluconate, selenium, taurine, quercetin and hesperidin. Two capsules provides 6 mg lutein. It is the synergistic combination of the various herbs and compounds that makes this combination so powerful.
Features and Benefits
- Supports total eye health.
- Fights free radical damage.
- Provides antioxidant protection for aging eyes.
- Supports the health of the macular region of the eye.
Super Omega 3.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of four basic fats that the body derives from foods. (The other three are cholesterol, saturated fat, and monounsaturated fat). Some of the other fats, especially too much saturated fat, can be harmful to the body, but Omega-3s are good for the body and especially good for the heart and brain. NSP Advantage Super Omega-3 softgels contain more than 1,000 mg fish oil per capsule, with a ratio of 33:16 EPA to DHA. It also contains lemon to significantly reduce the aftertaste from fish oil and to reduce gas.
NSP conducts extensive quality assurance testing to verify the purity of its products. The oil in Super Omega-3 is highly purified using molecular distillation. This helps to ensure a purer product.
Vitamin A & D 10,000/400 IU.
Vitamin A was the first vitamin to be discovered and is essential in maintaining good vision and promoting normal growth. It occurs in animal tissues as retinol, but in plants as carotene—a vitamin A precursor. It is necessary for the health of epithelial cells and the immune system. It is also required for the digestion of protein. Extra amounts are stored in the liver, but megadoses over time can be toxic. It is essential for lactation, reproduction and the formation of steroid hormones. It is used to form the cells lining the digestive, respiratory, reproductive and urinary tracts and all tissue linings of the body. It is also vital for healthy skin. It is a fat soluble vitamin and best taken with food containing oil or fat. Individuals with low thyroid function may have a reduced ability to change beta carotene into vitamin A.
Vitamin D works synergistically with vitamin A. It has a role in absorbing and regulating calcium and phosphorous. It also helps build strong bones, teeth and skin. It is vital to the health of the nervous system and kidneys. It can be derived from the sun’s action on oils secreted and absorbed by the skin, but the more tanned the skin, the less absorbed. Also, the older the skin the less active its production of vitamin D becomes. This vitamin helps the body synthesize protein and incorporate magnesium into bone and teeth structures.
Vitamin C 500 mg.
A tablet contains 500 mg of vitamin C in a base of bioflavonoids for enhanced protector capabilities with specific benefits for circulatory system.
Vitamin C time release 1000 mg.
Each tablet is designed with a special coating that releases its contents only after reaching the intestine. This product contains no sugar, starch, artificial colourings or flavourings.
Vitamin E with selenium.
Vitamin E and selenium have an affinity to each other. When the two are combined, their antioxidant activity of scavenging for free radicals is enhanced. The two work synergistically particularly in the production of antibodies and to help maintain a healthy liver and circulatory system.
is a blend of the most healthful fruits and nutritional supplements from all over the world. Zambroza is replete with xanthones, bioflavonoids and powerful antioxidants. Bioflavonoids give fruits and vegetables their bright colors. In the body, bioflavonoids enhance vitamin C absorption and help maintain collagen and capillary walls. They also aid in the body’s immune–defense system.
Antioxidants scavenge the free radicals that the body accumulates as a byproduct of energy production as well as through pollution, tobacco smoke, ultraviolet light and radiation. Antioxidants benefit virtually every organ and body system because they mop up damaging free radicals. Zambroza delivers a punch of antioxidant protection with a very high ORAC value. (ORAC is a measure of a product’s antioxidant strength).
Among Zambroza’s key ingredients is mangosteen, a tasty fruit found in eastern tropical nations, such as Thailand. Mangosteen contains the greatest known supply of compounds called xanthones. Xanthones offer powerful immune and cardiovascular support. Other ingredients in this nutritious juice include wolfberry, sea buckthorn, red grapes, grape seeds, grape skins, raspberries, blueberries, apple extract and green tea.
Zinc 25 mg minerals.
A rare trace mineral, zinc has been found to be extremely important for maintaining overall health. More zinc is found in the body than any other trace mineral with the exception of iron. Relatively large amounts are found in bone and muscle and in the prostate and retina. It is involved in sugar metabolism and the mineral seems to be easily lost from the system. Pregnant and nursing women require more than other women. Sucking on a zinc tablet is effective in fighting a sore throat.
Zinc & Vitamin C Lozenges
have been formulated with the most effective ingredients known to relieve the symptoms usually associated with the cold season. The tableted form you can suck on has been designed with the whole family in mind. While the primary purpose is to avoid the cold season, these lozenges contain 2 important ingredients for eye health.
Vitamin C aids in the treatment and prevention of the common cold. Zinc helps shorten the duration of cold symptoms. Slippery elm soothes the throat and the respiratory system, and relieves coughing. Licorice aids in the treatment of sore throat and helps fight viral infection. Echinacea helps fight bacterial and viral infections and boost immunity. Spearmint and peppermint oils relieve fever and pain. Eucalyptus oil aids in the treatment of sore throat.
For additional information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment. Please continue sharing our newsletters with friends and family. Visit our web site at http://ramilashealingartsclinic.com/index for back issues of this newsletter,
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The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.
1)Dahl AA. Glaucoma. Medical editors: Stöppler MC, Shiel WC Jr. http://www.medicinenet.com/glaucoma/article.htm Accessed on June 16, 2011.
2)Focus on Tufts’ Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research: Seeing connections between diet and health. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2009;26(11):6.
3)The Merck Manual of Medical Information, Home Edition. R. Berkow, M.H. Beers, A.J. Fletcher, eds. New York: Pocket Books, 1997.
4)Noecker RJ. Glaucoma overview. Medical editors: Allinson, RW, Talavera R, Graham RH. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/glaucoma_overview/article_em.htm Accessed on June 16, 2011.
5)Healthwise Staff. Glaucoma. Reviewed by: Romito K, Rudnisky CJ. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/glaucoma-health/article_em.htm Accessed on June 16, 2011.
6)Dietary antioxidants may help fight macular degeneration. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2006;24(2):1-2.
7)Focusing on the dinner plate for eye health. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2007;25(9):8.
8) Grossman M, Edson M. Natural Eye Care: Cataracts. From: A Comprehensive Manual for Practitioners of Oriental Medicine. http://www.visionworksusa.com/cataract_chapter.htm Accessed on June 17, 2011.
9)Fish & omega-3s may also protect against vision loss. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2008;26(7):8.
10)Physical activity may help protect aging eyes. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2007;24(11):8.
11)Mayo Clinic Staff. Cataracts: Prevention. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cataracts/DS00050/DSECTION=prevention Accessed on June 17, 2011.
These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better. It is a step toward longevity.
Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic