Blood Flow & Macular Degeneration
Guardion Health Sciences
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in older adults, and the number of people with the disease is increasing steadily. As the name suggests, age is a primary risk factor for the disease. But another risk factor that some experts believe contributes to the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration is reduced blood flow to the eye — particularly the choroid: the layer of blood vessels that nourishes the retina. The retina requires more oxygen than any other tissue in the body. When the choroid doesn’t get the oxygen and nutrients it needs, irreversible vision loss can occur.
How Does Ocular Blood Flow Affect Macular Degeneration?
With age, plaque builds up in the arteries that pump blood from the heart to the tissues of the body. As plaque builds up, it narrows the arteries, reducing blood flow to retina, choroid and other structures at the back of the eye. This prevents nutrients and oxygen from reaching the cells, and it interferes with the ability to remove waste from the back of the eye, causing debris and toxic waste products to build up.
As a result, the photoreceptor cells, which convert light into electrical signals to send to the brain, degenerate and die, and vision loss occurs.
There is another consequence of inadequate blood flow and oxygen supply to the retina. The lack of blood and oxygen triggers the production of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). This is the body’s way of creating a new network of blood vessels to bring more oxygen and nutrients to the retina. Although VEGF can be helpful in certain areas of the body, the new blood vessels that grow in the eye are fragile and atypical. They leak blood and other fluids, and can contribute to the formation of scar tissue. The growth of these blood vessels and resulting scar tissue can obscure vision, causing blurry or patchy areas in the visual field.
The more serious form of macular degeneration, wet macular degeneration, is characterized by the creation of these new abnormal blood vessels and the leaking of these vessels. As these small vessels leak blood into tissue of the retina, wet macular degeneration causes faster vision loss than the earlier form of the disease, dry macular degeneration.
Restoring Blood Flow to the Choroid
Along this line of thinking, improving blood flow to the choroid and the retina may protect against the visual consequences of macular degeneration and possibly stop dry macular degeneration from progressing to wet macular degeneration. Restoring blood flow helps to normalize the removal of debris and toxins that can build up in the retina; it also controls inflammation.
Enhancing blood flow to the back of the eye could stop dry macular degeneration from progressing to wet macular degeneration.
If you are at risk of macular degeneration or have been diagnosed with the early stages of the disease, talk to your doctor about treatment strategies. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol problems is important, as is not smoking and consuming eye-friendly nutrients that improve blood flow. Since most people do not get enough eye-friendly nutrients in their daily diet, nutritional therapy, like Lumega-Z, can be helpful.
For more information about medical foods that may help you avoid vision loss to macular degeneration, please contact Guardion Health Sciences today.