Vision and Nutrition
Guardion Health Sciences
Age is a well-known risk factor for many eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. The good news, however, is that making dietary changes to include eye-friendly nutrients in your diet can help preserve eye health for many years to come.
Guardion Health Sciences combines cutting-edge technology and highly specialized Medical Foods to help you maintain good eye health, particularly the health of the macular pigment. Continue reading to learn more about how diet affects your eye health.
The Role of Diet in Eye Health
The impact that diet has on overall health is well-documented. Eating a diet high in saturated fat and sugar increases one’s risk of certain health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Conversely, a diet rich in vitamins and minerals like fruits and vegetables can minimize the risk of developing these conditions and other health problems.
Carotenoids Are Key to Eye Health
Foods high in carotenoids protect the eyes in two ways. First, carotenoids form the macular pigment which lies directly in front of central vision, called the macula, and absorbs ultraviolet light before it strikes the retina. Second, carotenoids provide significant anti-oxidant activity which slows or stops free radical damage to the macula and retina. It is widely believed that excessive exposure to ultraviolet light and free radical damage in the macula contribute to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Carotenoids are pigments present in plants and algae, and are responsible for the vibrant red, orange and green color in vegetables and fruits. There are three types of carotenoids that make up the macular pigment: lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. It is difficult in the western diet to obtain sufficient levels of the three macular carotenoids. Supplementation of these essential carotenoids is essential to maintain a healthy macular protective pigment.
Nutritional Supplements and Eye Health
A number of studies have found that nutritional supplements offer a number of benefits to both individuals with eye diseases and those with good eye health. Two landmark five-year clinical studies, the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (known as AREDS and AREDS2), specifically investigated the effect of taking a special dietary supplement on the development and progression of AMD and cataracts. The following are highlights from the AREDS study:
- Researchers looked at 3,600 participants ages 55 to 80 with varying stages of AMD
- The study found that taking a supplement with 80mg zinc and antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene) reduced the risk of AMD progression by 25 percent in individuals with moderate to advanced AMD. The risk of vision loss was reduced by 19 percent.
AREDS2 investigated the effect of whether adding more nutrients, including carotenoids, to the original AREDS nutrient formula would further lower the risk of developing advanced AMD. Highlights of the follow-up study include:
- Researchers looked at 4,200 participants with moderate to advanced stages of AMD.
- The study examined the benefits of adding lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids to the original AREDS formula.
- Based on the results, the National Eye Institute (which sponsored the study), proposed adding 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin to the AREDS supplement formula.
- The NEI also proposed removing beta-carotene to the formula, due to concerns about an increased risk of lung cancer in former or current smokers.
Another study, called the Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trial (CREST), examined the benefits of carotenoids in improving macular pigment. Sponsored by the Macular Pigment Research Group at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, the study looked at 105 participants with either early stage AMD or normal eye health, for a 12-month period. During this time, 53 participants received a daily formula of the three macular carotenoids (zeaxanthin, lutein and meso-zeaxanthin) and 52 participants received a placebo. The study found that individuals who received the carotenoid supplement experienced an improvement in macular pigment, as well as in visual function as measured by contrast sensitivity. The findings of CREST are significant because they suggest that even individuals with healthy vision can benefit from supplements with carotenoids.
Whether you have been diagnosed with an eye disease like macular degeneration, or have an increased risk, making lifestyle and dietary changes can help protect your eyes and vision for years to come. Speak to your eye doctor about adding nutritional therapy to your diet to protect your eye health.
Contact Guardion Health Sciences to learn more about restoring macular pigment and boosting eye health with Lumega-Z.