The Complete Guide to Eye Health

  • 1 Nov 2010
  • Reading time 25 mins
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A comprehensive report that covers nutritional solutions for a range of eye problems, from macular degeneration to dry eyes.

Vegetable fats – a possible culprit

Dr Joanna Seddon of the Harvard Medical School discovered that a high-fat diet may be associated with an increased risk of developing wet AMD, after analysing the diet and health of over 800 patients with and without wet AMD. High intake of vegetable, monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats commonly found in snack foods such as potato chips, french fries, cakes, biscuits and commercially prepared pies, was associated with a twofold-increased risk of developing wet AMD, according to Dr Seddon’s study. High intake of linoleic acid, a fat also found in many snack foods, was associated with the greatest risk of developing wet AMD.

Conversely, Dr Seddon and colleagues found that individuals who consumed little food containing linoleic acid and who ate two or more servings of oily fish per week showed a lower risk of developing AMD. Oily fish are high in a fat called docosahexanoic acid (DHA), which may have a healthful effect on blood vessels leading to the retina. DHA is also highly enriched in the retina and diets rich in DHA should lessen the risk of developing the disease. [4]

In a study of more than 4,000 people, researchers from Tufts University in Boston discovered that people who regularly eat high-glycaemic-load foods – white rice, pasta and bread – are more likely to develop AMD and diabetes. They estimated 20% of AMD cases could have been prevented had the patients eaten less processed foods. [5]

Eat up your carotenoids to increase visual performance

Two carotenoids present in the macula – lutein and zeathanxin – are powerful antioxidant pigments which are also particularly rich in green leafy vegetables and brightly coloured fruits. Researchers from the University of Georgia concluded these carotenoids have a positive effect on the retina, reducing disability and discomfort from glare, enhancing contrast and increasing visual range. [6]

The carotenoid pigments appear to protect the retina and lens and perhaps even prevent age-related diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein is an oil-soluble nutrient, and if you merely consume vegetables without some oil or butter, you can't absorb the lutein so well. So if you are consuming vegetable juice, it would be wise to add a splash of virgin olive oil to the juice to maximise your lutein absorption, as well as other important nutrients like vitamin K. Egg yolk is a highly bioavailable source of lutein and zeathanxin, whereas foods such as cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potato, yams and yellow squash are rich in beta-carotene, another carotenoid, but provide no lutein.

Lutein & zeaxanthin concentration in fruits & vegetables food per 100 g

Kale, raw 39,550 mcg
Kale, cooked 15,798 mcg
Spinach, raw 11,938 mcg
Collards, cooked 8,091 mcg
Spinach, cooked 7,043 mcg
Lettuce, cos or romaine 2,635 mcg
Broccoli, cooked 2,226 mcg
Corn, cooked 1,800 mcg
Peas, canned 1,350 mcg
Brussels sprouts, cooked 1,290 mcg
Corn, canned, whole kernel 884 mcg
Beans, snap green, cooked 700 mcg
Oranges 187 mcg
Papayas 75 mcg

(Source: American Macular Degeneration Foundation)

Nutritional supplements for AMD

You should aim to supplement around the following levels of key nutrients each day, probably via a multi and an antioxidant complex. Beta-carotene 625mcg; RE Vitamin A 650mg; Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 100mg of each; B5 500mg; Folic acid 1,000mcg; Choline 100mg; Inositol 100mg; Biotin 500mcg; Vitamin C 3,000mg; Quercitin 2,000mg; Rutin 300mg; Vitamin D 5mcg; Vitamin E 500mg; N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) 1,000mg; Alpha lipoic acid 200mg; Magnesium 500mg; Calcium 500mg (men) 800mg (women); Coenzyme Q10 100mg; L-Carnitine 500mg; Ginkgo biloba 240mg; Zinc 30mg; Lutein 20mg; Zeathanxin 300mcg; Bilberry 300mg; Omega 3 oils 1,500mg; Omega 6 oils 1,500mg; Selenium 200mcg; Garlic 1,000mg; Taurine 500mg; Lycopene 20mg.

(NOTE: where anti-coagulant, blood thinning medications are being taken, vitamin E, ginkgo biloba and essential fatty acids, which naturally thin the blood, are contra-indicated.)

What else can you to do to avoid AMD?

• Lutein supplements in a sublingual form sprayed under the tongue have a 100% take-up compared with only 10% from tablet form.
• Electrical stimulation, which encourages cellular regeneration, applies a microcurrent stimulator (MCS) to acupressure points around the eyes.

This treatment has produced much interest since Sam Snead, the retired professional golfer, had a series of MCS treatments which improved his vision, which had been weakened by MD. Dr John Jarding treated 35 macular degeneration patients with a controlled microcurrent and all subjects reported vision improvements. [7] For more information about products and training, see www.dovehealth.com.

• Keep your weight down. Research has found that overweight patients with AMD double their risk of developing advanced forms of macular degeneration compared with people of normal body weight. Yet performing vigorous activity more than twice weekly can reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD, compared with inactive patients. [8]
• Physical exercise of the whole body is known to enhance circulation, metabolism and general well-being and keep eye tissue healthy.
• Specific eye exercises such as yoga, the Tibetan wheel, Cambridge Institute exercises, Chinese facial massage or the Bates method (see below) are well documented in popular books promoting better sight. However, because of impracticalities in devising double-blind study methods, there have been no conclusive clinical trials. But they are worthy of mention as, once learnt, they are easy to do, are totally cost-free, do no harm and may be beneficial.
• People with pale ......

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