….A leading cause of vision loss- “Vision loss is not a natural part of the ageing process and doesn’t have to be accepted as one if care is taken with diet and lifestyle”
A couple of decades ago, age-related macular degeneration was an unknown disease in the public’s knowledge of health. I was introduced to it when my mother was diagnosed with wet and dry age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). This meant she had wet ARMD in one eye and dry in the other. She had been experiencing the symptoms for a while, but hadn’t mentioned them to anyone. This is the first lesson: even if it is a small cloud, or what appears to be an irritant in your eye, you should bring it to the attention of a health professional.
In terms of preventative maintenance, it is never too early to protect yourself against ARMD. This disease remains the leading cause of vision loss in adults over 50. The unfortunate truth is that many younger adults choose not to ‘see’ that far into the future. You may believe that ARMD will not happen to you; it may be considered a far-off risk that can be addressed when you near retiring age or even further.
<<<IMRF>>> Part of Prevention is Lifestyle and the other is proactive home vision self-care (or vision monitoring to be clear). The International Macular and Retinal Foundation ( www.macular-retinal.org ) provides FREE KeepSight testing journals. Our website also gives you accurate information and links to resources. Our team that donates their time is made up of researches, doctors, patient advocates, educators, and more “We welcome your support in continuing our mission” Together we can make a difference by getting our tools into everyone’s home so they can take control of their vision health and maintain their independence. The quicker vision changes are identified- the better chance treatments have of working to save sight and prevent vision loss. <<<IMRF>>>
However, it may surprise people to know that adults are suffering from ARMD at a younger age. Some ARMD sufferers are as young as 20, and ARMD is responsible for roughly five per cent of blindness around the world. The condition continues to progress; up to 196 million people could suffer from ARMD by the year 2020.
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness describes the condition as “the third most important cause of blindness in the world and the leading cause of blindness in higher income countries with ageing populations”.
One of the main causes of ARMD is an increased amount of free radical damage inflicted on the human body. Free radicals can be found anywhere. You could find them in sun exposure, unnatural foods, pollution and environmental toxins. To make matters worse, the western diet is sorely lacking in the antioxidants required to protect our delicate eyes against disease.
Powerful antioxidants called carotenoids, when consumed in ample amounts, can protect your eyes from degeneration. Free radicals attack your healthy eyes again and again, resulting in the macula becoming damaged. The macula is a small part of the eye that controls the central vision.
Small and mighty, the macula provides you with the ability to see crisp detail and vivid colours. A deteriorated macula resulting in ARMD may start in one eye and will soon affect the other in many cases.
The dry and wet ARMD I referred to earlier can be explained as follows:
Dry –The most common type of ARMD may develop slowly and will ultimately cause a loss of central vision, in 95 per cent of cases. The good news is that dry ARMD is largely reliant on nutrition and lifestyle factors. Therefore, it is possible to stop and reverse dry ARMD with an anti-inflammatory diet and eye-healthy nutrients.
Wet – Weak, malnourished blood vessels will result in wet ARMD. These deteriorating vessels are found behind the retina and will soon leak into the macula. Wet ARMD is less common than dry. However, it will result in a rapid loss of vision. It is harder to achieve full recovery for wet ARMD, though damage can be minimised with the right lifestyle choices.
There are two essential nutrients for clear eyes. The problem has already been pinpointed as a lack of antioxidants in the diet. Many medical professionals agree with this. According to Macular Degeneration International, patients with ARMD may be told that there is no treatment available to reverse or halt the condition. Patients may be encouraged to take antioxidant vitamins at a bare minimum.
While antioxidant intake is essential, targeted antioxidant use is key. Taking a run-of-the-mill antioxidant vitamin isn’t going to improve or stop vision loss. Understanding which critical nutrients the eyes need to protect and restore sight can greatly help to reduce blindness.
Two specific nutrients are responsible for protecting the macula from degeneration.
Lutein – This is not made by the body. It is a powerful carotenoid and must be gleaned in food and nutritional supplements to prevent permanent vision loss. An anti-inflammatory diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables provides a foundation for healthy vision at any age. Incredibly, up to 14 portions of fresh or frozen vegetables per day are recommended. Along with that a daily lutein supplement can support eye, brain and full body health.
Zeaxanthin – As with lutein, zeaxanthin is an antioxidant found in most fruits and vegetables. Antioxidant levels are especially high in green leafy vegetables. Zeaxanthin works alongside lutein to maintain the structural integrity of blood vessels that supply the macula to protect against photo-oxidation. Zeaxanthin in the diet and in supplement form is highly recommended.
In a review of more than 25 epidemiological studies, lutein and zeaxanthin were found to be inversely associated with ARMD.
The Mediterranean diet includes the nutrients mentioned above. Vision loss is not a natural part of the ageing process and doesn’t have to be accepted as one if care is taken with diet and lifestyle…..