ESTIMATED READING TIME 5 MINUTES
It’s National Eye Health Week, and with at least 50% of sight loss being preventable, it’s the perfect time to be thinking about eye health. Age-related macular degeneration affects over 700,000 people in the UK, usually those over 50, but it can affect younger people, too. It’s the most common cause of sight issues.
Read on to find out more about this condition and how it can be prevented.
Macular degeneration is also called Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) because it’s so widespread in older age. It’s caused by damage to the cells in a special area of your retina, called the macula.
Your retina, found at the back of your eye, is vital for your vision. The cells there are sensitive to light and colour. They cause nerve impulses to be sent to your brain, creating an image of whatever your retinal cells are detecting.
The macula is concerned with the image from the central part of the picture when you focus on an object. It’s a tiny area but incredibly important, containing millions of light and colour-sensitive cells. It has very high concentrations of special types of cells called cones. These help you to see colour and fine detail.
AMD can significantly affect vision because damage to the macula cells leads to blurring or distortion in the central part of your vision. For example, text on a page may look wiggly and hard to read. Meanwhile, straight lines often appear wavy, broken or blurred. Over time, the middle section of your view can be completely obliterated, interfering with day-to-day living. It can make reading and watching TV difficult, and you might struggle to recognise familiar faces.
AMD comes in two forms: wet and dry.
In dry AMD, vision slowly deteriorates. The damage to macula cells is caused by free radicals. These are unstable substances created by your body in the process of producing energy.
Free radical damage eventually causes the cells in the macula to die off, and they’re not renewed. Some people develop accumulations of fat and waste products under the retina, which aren’t cleared away as they should be. They are called drusens, and they seem to put people at an increased risk of developing AMD because they can cause bleeding and scarring in the area.
Dry AMD is the most common form of AMD, accounting for around 80-90% of cases.
In the case of wet AMD, tiny blood vessels grow into the macula where they shouldn’t be. These leak blood or fluid and damage the macula, causing scarring.
Antioxidants neutralise the harmful free radicals causing oxidative damage. Certain antioxidants have been found in studies to be incredibly beneficial in protecting the cells of the eyes against the degenerative changes associated with macular degeneration.
These antioxidants are naturally concentrated in the macula of the eye. In fact, the macula is pigmented yellow, and it gets this colour from the antioxidants there. It’s thought they protect against AMD by absorbing blue light, acting a little like sunglasses within your eyes, quenching free radicals and stabilising cell membranes.
Studies have shown people with higher blood levels of two particular antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, had a decreased risk of developing AMD 1. People who had already developed AMD and who took lutein supplements found their vision improved, and damage to the macula was reversed.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants known as carotenoids. They’re naturally present in red, orange, yellow and dark green fruits and vegetables. They are especially abundant in red peppers, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, green leafy veg like spinach and kale, and berries such as blueberries and cherries..
To protect your eyes, it makes sense to eat plenty of these plant foods. However, if you are experiencing eye problems you may be advised to take a concentrated supplement of these antioxidants.
Other nutrients important for eye health include vitamin C, crucial for keeping the walls of tiny blood vessels healthy, zinc, beta carotene and vitamin E.
Risk factors apart from low antioxidants for developing AMD include smoking, having a family history of the disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity, and exposure of the eyes to UV rays.
Eyes are incredibly precious, but they don’t operate in isolation. All your body is connected to its other parts. This means if you want to optimise your health it makes sense to look at what’s happening in your entire body.
Following a thorough health history, and dietary and lifestyle analysis, you’ll receive food, supplement and herbal recommendations as well as lifestyle hacks personalised to your health issues and goals.
Do you need personalised natural support for your eye health? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
Please enter your details below and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
FOR ALL THE LATEST NUTRITION & WELLNESS NEWS & OFFERS
Login to your account to access your personal dashboard
Create your free account to gain access to free content and a customer dashboard to access your orders, appointments and subscribed courses. A verification email will be sent to the address provided.
Please enter your contact details below and some details of your Fibromyalgia for your discovery call and we will get back to you to arrange a suitable time for your FREE 15 Minute Call
Please enter your contact details below and some details of your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for your discovery call and we will get back to you to arrange a suitable time for your FREE 15 Minute Call
Please enter your contact details below and some details of your symptoms for your discovery call and we will get back to you to arrange a suitable time for your FREE 15 Minute Call
Please enter your contact details below and the reason for your discovery call and we will get back to you to arrange a suitable time for your FREE 15 Minute Discovery Call
If you wish to reschedule your appointment, please fill out the reschedule booking request form below.
Booking Re-schedules need to be approved and are processed manually. You will receive confirmation of your rescheduled booking once processed.
If you would rather cancel your appointment, then please close this form and select Consultation Cancel Request from the menu.
If an appointment is cancelled with less than 24 hours-notice 50% fee will be incurred. If an appointment is not attended a 100% fee will be charged.
If an appointment is cancelled with less than 24 hours-notice by Embracing Nutrition, a 50% reduction of your next appointment will be made.