Improve your chances against Age Related Eye Diseases

A natural supplement could provide you with a solution against Age Related Eye diseases.

Vision loss is one of the early signs of ageing and with the increase of the ageing population, prevention of age related eye diseases has become a high priority. It has been estimated that more than 10% of people over the age of 70 are affected by age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a disease of the retina, which severely impairs a persons eyesight and quality of life. A large number of the elderly suffer from cataracts (clouding of the lens). There is increasing evidence that age-related degenerative eye diseases are accessible to dietary prevention. It has long been known that vision and eyesight depend on Vitamin A intake. It is now clear that other components of the diet are equally important for maintaining good vision into old age. Current evidence suggests that dietary intervention including supplementation may delay onset and progression of AMD and possibly cataract, saving people's eyesight for many years. Given the fact that current medical therapies for AMD are limited, dietary measures to prevent AMD are an attractive option. The aim of this article is to review dietary interventions currently available for the prevention of age-related eye diseases and to further discuss dietary supplement options indicated for eye patients and people interested in optimising the health of their eyes. Good nutrition is essential for maintaining health into older age. This particularly holds true for eye health. Many of the pathological changes seen in the lens and retina (macula) can be explained by oxidative damage induced by lifelong exposure to light and uv-radiation. Some pathological processes in the retina are associated with formation of free radicals, which damage sensitive cones and rods. A considerable amount of research data point to the fact that the antioxidant vitamins C, E and A, together with xanthophyll carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin can protect the lens and the retina from excessive oxidative damage. Trace elements such as zinc and selenium are cofactors of enzymes involved in antioxidant defense. Early studies suggested that high intake of Vitamin C reduces the risk of cataract. Results from a large intervention study1have added further evidence that dietary supplementation with antioxidants (Vitamin C, E and betacarotene) and zinc can delay progression of AMD. Recent data from epidemiological and clinical studies strongly suggest that lutein – a xanthophyll carotenoid occurring in fruits, vegetables and eggs also contributes to a reduced risk of AMD and cataract. Lutein is a major component of the macular pigment and acts as a uv-filter protecting the retina, macula and lens from damaging blue light. These findings support the idea that two of the most important eye diseases of old age - AMD and cataract are accessible to prevention by a diet rich in antioxidants, zinc and lutein.
Despite their importance in maintaining eye health, many people fail to obtain sufficient daily intakes of lutein. In people whose intake of lutein was 5 to 6 mg per day the risk for AMD was about half as compared to people who had intakes below 2 mg per day2. However, results from nutritional survey studies suggest that dietary intake of lutein is far below the levels thought to be protective against AMD. For example, average lutein intake of Swiss students was assessed by a 7 day dietary questionnaire3. Students eating a typical Swiss diet had an average intake of 1.8g per day - leaving a gap of 3 to 4 mg per day. In the student's diet the main sources of lutein were vegetables: 60%, eggs: 21% and fruits:19% of total intake respectively. Large differences of lutein intake have also been reported from one country to the other. Vegetables typical of the Mediterranean diet (kale) are good sources of lutein. Fruits and vegetables differ widely in their content of xanthophylls carotenoids. People who fail to eat sufficient vegetables and fruits rich in lutein on a regular basis may experience a shortfall of these important carotenoids. In cases where consumption of nutrients such as lutein and antioxidants from dietary sources fall short, a dietary supplement can be considered to meet nutrient requirements. A very diverse range of dietary supplements ranging from single entity products to multivitamin – multimineral composites, antioxidant formulations and special eye health formulations are available. The antioxidant formulation found to be protective against AMD in the AREDS study supplied Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper. However the formula used in this study did not contain lutein and can therefore not be considered a complete solution for eye health. Furthermore, betacarotene formulations should be avoided by smokers. Addition of lutein to antioxidant formulations could provide a more complete solution to support eye health, for smokers and non smokers. If intake cannot be met by dietary means alone, it is advisable to take a special eye health supplement with significant levels of eye health protective micronutrients such as Lutein, carotenoids, antioxidants, zinc and copper.
1. AREDS Report No.8; A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss; Arch Ophthalmol 1191417- 1436 (2001)
2. AREDS Report No. 9; A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E and beta carotene for
age-related cataract and vision loss; Arch Opththalmol 119 1439-1452 (2001)
3. B. Olmedilla et al; Serum concentrations of carotenoids and vitamins A, E, and C in control subjects from five European countries; Br J Nutr 85 227-38 (2001)
4. T.T.J. Berendschot; Influence of lutein supplementation on macular pigment, assessed with two objective techniques; Investigative Opthathalmology
and Visual Science 41 3322- 3326 (2000)





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