Macular degeneration is a disease of the retina that results in a loss of central vision. This loss of central vision often starts when vision becomes distorted or blurred, and as the condition proceeds, you lose the ability to distinguish features in the center of your visual field. For example, if you look at another person’s face, their hair and ears may be clear but it may be hard to discern the person’s facial features. The disease is age-related, which is why it is referred to as age-related macular degeneration or AMD.
Annual eye exams are important, and certain nutrients are key. The results of two very large research studies, Age-Related Eye Disease Studies AREDS1 and AREDS2, suggest that certain nutritional supplements can slow AMD progression:
- Vitamin C 500mg
- Vitamin E 400 IU
- Copper 2mg
- Lutein 10mg
- Zeaxanthin 2mg
- Zinc 25mg
All of these are antioxidants which protect the body against free radicals thought to be partly responsible for the aging process. In the eye, free radicals contribute to cell degeneration which damages the macular cells.
Some of these nutrients, like vitamin C, are easier to get in the diet, while others are more difficult to get via dietary intake. Lutein and zeaxanthin are both found in high concentrations in a healthy macula and are thought to absorb damaging blue wavelengths of light. Think of them as a built-in sunblock for your eyes. Since the body cannot make lutein or zeaxanthin, they must be consumed in the diet, and a supplement is best to make sure you get consistent levels each day.
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