The Link between Alzheimer’s & Macular Degeneration
Guardion Health Sciences
Doctors have long suspected they can learn a lot about a person’s brain by looking at their eyes. An increasing body of research points to a link between eye diseases and Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
The implications of this research could be immense, as Alzheimer’s disease is challenging to diagnose and treat. Not only are researchers learning that aspects of eye health may be a possible biomarker for predicting Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but studies suggest that some of the means we take to protect vision as we age may also protect our cognitive health and stave off neurodegenerative diseases.
The macula, which is the area near the center of the retina that controls sharp central vision, is a particular area of focus. A healthy macula gives us the clear vision we need to drive, read, recognize faces and perform other everyday activities. Studies have found that people with age-related macular degeneration, a chronic deterioration of the macula, are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia than those without macular degeneration.
Macular Pigment: Biomarker for Cognitive Problems?
The macular pigment is a layer of tissue that protects the macula from damage. A thick macular pigment, which is measured in terms of macular pigment optical density, helps prevent age-related macular degeneration, When macular pigment optical density is low, the risk of macular degeneration increases.
Studies have been performed to examine whether macular pigment optical density is related to cognitive function in older adults. Based on some of the results, it is possible that changes to the macular pigment may indicate more than just vision problems: they could possibly reflect cognitive impairments in the brain.
A 2014 study from Tufts University found that macular pigment optical density is related to cognitive function in older people. People with higher macular pigment optical density showed better global cognition, verbal learning and fluency, recall, processing speed and perpetual speed.
What Does This Mean for You?
Macular pigment optical density may be a risk factor for macular degeneration and neurodegenerative diseases, but it is a modifiable one.
The macular pigment is made up of three plant compounds: lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. Eating enough of these antioxidants may help preserve vision as well as cognitive function. Since most Western diets do not include enough of these eye-healthy carotenoids, supplementation can help to fill in the gaps.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in foods like leafy green vegetables; however, most people’s daily diets do not include high enough levels of the antioxidants to make a difference in their macular pigment. Meso-zeaxanthin is not found in nature and has to be produced in the eye from the other carotenoids.
The best way to replenish the macular pigment and see the optimal therapeutic benefit is to get the three carotenoids through nutritional therapy called medical foods.
By taking a specific medical food, Lumega-Z, on a daily basis, you can restore and replenish your macular pigment to reduce your risk of experiencing vision loss from macular degeneration, and potentially help to stave off Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Further research is needed to determine if nutrition therapy with Lumega-Z can help to prevent or delay the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.
For more information about these types of products, please contact Guardion Health Sciences today.