HOW TO SLOW DOWN DETERIORATION OF EYESIGHT
As you get older you are encouraged to have regular eye check¬ups, partly to make any adjustments to your spectacles prescrip¬tion but also to check for the three most common eye conditions that can lead to blindness: cataracts (clouding of the lens in the eye), glaucoma (a dangerous rise in the pressure in the eye) and age-related macular degeneration (a loss of the sharp-focusing area at the centre of the retina). The following advice can help to protect you from these eye problems and slow down the deterioration of eyesight.
Top 5 Solutions
1. Increase your intake of vitamin A and other antioxidants
Vitamin A is the most important nutrient for eyes. It is a key part of the chemical process that turns photons of light into the elec¬trical nerve impulses that travel from the eye to the brain. It also maintains the mucous lining of the eye; supports tear production; protects the eye from the harmful effects of bright sunlight; and prevents night blindness. Vitamin A can only be obtained from the diet and comes in two forms.
One is the readily absorbed, fat-soluble vitamin retinol, found in animal tissues; the other is known as beta-carotene and is obtained from plants, particularly apricots, cantaloupe melons, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, spinach, squashes and broccoli. Beta-carotene is converted into retinol in the liver.
If your eyesight is deteriorating, you would need to be supplementing at least 1o,000iu (3000mcgRE) vitamin A a day.
Oxidants are created in our cells when something is burned, whether cigarettes or fried food or petrol in cars. They have to be disarmed by antioxidants because the damage they cause in the body, oxidation, is harmful. Oxidants are also created by ultraviolet rays from the sun. The antioxidants that help protect against these oxidants include vitamins C and E, as well as co-enzyme Q,1o (CoQ,10) and some rather more specialised com-pounds: acetyl-l-carnitine, n-acetyl-cysteine and alpha-lipoic acid.
One large study of over 3,000 people found that a combination of antioxidants (vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, plus zinc), could slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 25 % and reduce vision loss by 19 %.’ The higher your vitamin C intake, the lower your risk of cataracts and glaucoma. CoQ,10 has been shown to help prevent both cataracts and AMD. It is naturally present in the eye, but the amount declines by about 4o % between youth and old age.
These nutrients are often provided in antioxidant and eye-support supplements and are well worth taking to protect your eyes as you get older.
2. Eat more green vegetables, red onions and brightly coloured fruits
Carrots are an especially rich source of a group of nutrients called carotenoids. Two carotenoids present in the macula of the eyes lutein and zeaxanthin – are powerful antioxidant pigments. The richest sources of these are found not in carrots but in green leafy vegetables and brightly coloured fruits, as well as egg yolks. Lutein and zeaxanthin appear to protect the retina and help prevent age-related diseases such as AMD and cataracts. The more you eat, the lower your risk. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also worth supplementing and are often found in eye-support formulas.
Lutein is an oil-soluble nutrient found in vegetables. If you add a splash of olive oil or a little butter to your vegetables you will actually absorb the lutein better from them than if you eat them without any fat.
Red onions are particularly high in quercetin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which has been shown to protect against cataract formation. In an animal study, onions have been shown to prevent cataract formation.
3. Check your homocysteine level and supplement B vitamins
Studies have found that patients with AMD have higher levels of the damaging amino acid homocysteine, but those who took a combination of B vitamins (which brings down homocysteine) had a lower chance of developing it. As a minimum, to keep homocysteine levels lower, take a multivitamin that provides 20mg of vitamin B6, 2oomcg of folic acid and 1omcg of vitamin B12, which are the most important B vitamins for keeping your homocysteine level healthy. Ideally, check your homocysteine level.
4. Eat fish, supplement fish oil and get enough vitamin D
Omega-3 fats are essential for the eyes because the retina naturally contains high levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is a type of omega-3 fat that is also part of the brain’s structure. Abnormalities in the tear film, which keeps the eye moist, result from a lack of omega-3 oils, which are obtained in the diet from oily fish and seeds such as flax and chia. Combining omega-3 fats with antioxidants is particularly protective.
Another important nutrient to supplement, especially if you live in northern Europe, is vitamin D. High levels of vitamin D in the blood are associated with a decreased risk of developing AMD. So buy good quality vitamin D supplement and have it regularly.
5. Protect your eyes with a low-GL diet
Eating white rice, pasta and bread increase your odds of developing AMD, because these foods disrupt blood sugar levels, leading to weight gain. In turn, obesity immediately puts you at a greater risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma and AMD, because high levels of blood sugar, which tend to go with obesity, can lead to diabetes and can also cause damage to the blood vessels of the eye.
If you’re carrying extra weight, you should aim to bring it down. The best way to do this is by following a low-GL diet, which keeps blood sugar levels stable. A low-GL diet will also help to keep your blood pressure down, which is also important for eye health.
Other General Advice for the Deterioration Of Eyesight
Here are some ways to protect your eyes from degeneration:
- Only wear sunglasses in very strong sunlight – your eyes need certain wavelengths of sunlight to remain healthy.
- Sleep in total darkness to allow the rods and cones in the retina to replenish.
- Trayner pinhole glasses can help with focusing problems, such as far- and near-sightedness, computer strain, eye strain, headaches and presbyopia (difficulty reading small print). Regular use of the Trayner glasses builds up the eye muscles and reshapes the eyes.
- If you spend a lot of time on the computer, make sure that you sit squarely facing the computer and aim to position the screen so that it’s a little below your eye level. Blink very regularly to rest and lubricate the eyes. Take a short break every hour and use the palming technique from the Bates Method to increase eye responsiveness: place your palms over your eyes, relax and breathe deeply until all you see is black.
- The lighting of your work area should be equal to the computer screen.