Unexpected Ways to Help or Prevent Macular Degeneration and other Vision Challenges

Unexpected Ways to Help or Prevent Macular Degeneration and other Vision Challenges

You may be unaware that living in such a fast paced, industrialized, digital world could be putting your vision at risk. Whether it’s microscopic environmental pollutants, overuse of electronic screens, or manipulated, synthesized foods, human eyes are immersed in a constant fight for survival. However, symptoms usually don’t arise until accumulated, years of abuse take its toll and slow growing degeneration robs you of your healthy sight.

These outside factors combined with advancing age may be a factor macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and other eye diseases are sweeping not only the United States but the entire globe at an unprecedented rate.

According to the National Eye Institute (NEI),

“Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects more than 1.75 million individuals in the United States. Owing to the rapid aging of the US population, this number will increase to almost 3 million by 2020.”

Age cannot be reversed but risky environmental influences on your sight may be reduced using pro-active or maintenance protocol programs. Yet, while conventional medicine offers a variety of pharmaceuticals and invasive procedures, there may be some unexpected ways to help or prevent macular degeneration and other vision challenges naturally.

Limit Your Screen Time

With so many occupations and hobbies using computers, tablets and/or cell phones, negative vision results due to longtime blue light exposure are beginning to emerge.

The American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) cites blue light from excessive screen use as a potential, unexpected contributor to eye disease stating that:

“Recent studies suggest that the blue end of the light spectrum may also contribute to retinal damage and possibly lead to AMD. The retina can be harmed by high-energy visible radiation of blue/violet light that penetrates the macular pigment found in the eye. According to a study by The Schepens Eye Institute, a low density of macular pigment may represent a risk factor for AMD by permitting greater blue light damage.”

Take breaks in-between your screen time being sure to close and gently massage your eyes. Avoid useless scrolling especially at night when your eyes are most vulnerable. In some cases, protective computer eyewear may help reduce blue light exposure.

Keep an Eye on the Dry

Dry eye syndrome is becoming more prominent and not just for the elderly.

The National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that,

“Nearly five million Americans 50 years of age and older are estimated to have dry eye. Of these, more than three million are women and more than one and a half million are men. Tens of millions more have less severe symptoms.”

It is believed that dry eye syndrome can thin the macular which is an essential component of healthy vision. Dry eye syndrome can also develop into dry eye disease known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Left untreated or attempted to remedy with subpar, over-the-counter (OTC) lubricating or rewetting drops that can contain synthetic ingredients may do more damage than good.

Dr. Robert Ryan, optometrist at the University of Rochester’s Flaum Eye Institute and Dr. Steven Rose, ophthalmologist and retinal specialist with Retina Associates of Western New York comment,

“The knockoff brands tend to have harsher preservatives, which irritate the eye,…Using drops on a daily basis for chronically dry eyes can cause damage by constricting the blood vessels in the eye.”

Consuming more omega-3 fatty acid rich supplements or foods like salmon or sardines has been shown to help alleviate dry eye syndrome. It is also important to protect your eyes from dry eye causing allergens and pollutants so wrap around sunglasses are recommended. In addition, there are natural dry eye drops on the market mostly found in health food stores which use clean ingredients to keep your eyes moist without the chemical residue.

Get the Beta Foods

Beta-carotene has been shown in many studies to help strengthen ocular function. Eating foods high in this compound (known as a terpenoid hydrocarbon) significantly advances the production of vitamin A, an essential vision nutritive.

According to Scientific American,

“Vitamin A helps the eye convert light into a signal that can be transmitted to the brain, allowing people to see under conditions of low light. In addition, the cornea (the clear front of the eye) can literally disappear if the body does not get enough vitamin A. Every year an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 children become blind as a result of vitamin A deficiency. In settings where undernourished people suffer from extreme vitamin A deficiencies, such as Nepal or India, supplements of the vitamin or beta-carotene have been shown to improve night vision.”

All About Vision reports that,

“Vitamin A, at least when in combination with other antioxidant vitamins, also appears to play a role in decreasing the risk of vision loss from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In the landmark Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) sponsored by the National Eye Institute, people with mild or moderate AMD who took a daily multivitamin that included vitamin A (as beta-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and copper had a 25 percent reduced risk of advanced AMD during a six-year period.”

Foods high in vitamin A include:

  • Butternut squash
  • Pumpkin leaves
  • Carrots
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Sweet potato
  • Kale
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tuna fish

Look for vitamin A (beta carotene) mixed into ARED (age-related eye disease) natural supplement formulas that may also contain vision supporting ingredients such as vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, zeaxanthin, selenium, lutein, calcium and in some cases shark cartilage.

Pricey Eye Spice

Recent studies are showing that the spice saffron may have some healing properties for those suffering from macular degeneration. Saffron has been used for centuries, prized in ancient Asia as not only a rare and unique ingredient but an alleged cure for up to 90 ailments.

A study of the effects of saffron on AMD by Italian researchers published in the journal Purinergic Signalling stated,

“Experimental studies demonstrated that saffron protects photoreceptors from light-induced damage preserving both retinal morphology and visual function and improves retinal flicker sensitivity in AMD patients…These results point out a novel mechanism through which saffron may exert its protective role in neurodegeneration…”

Also, reported by the Australian news source RN (an affiliate of ABC news),

“Jonathan Stone is Professor of Neurobiology at Sydney University, where saffron has been used in trials of people suffering from age-related macular degeneration. Results from here and Italy indicate patients given daily doses of 20 mg of saffron reported at least partial restoration of vision.”

Look for saffron capsules on the horizon as more research confirms the healing properties of this elusive spice.

These unexpected ways to help or prevent macular degeneration and other vision challenges shows the many avenues you can use to take control of your sight.