Volume III, No. 2 by Frank M. Jordan
The Eyes Have It!
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Poor Vision for Millions Today
Blindness or severely impaired vision affects 3.3 million Americans age 40 and over, or one in 28, and is projected to reach 5.5 million by the year 2020. With the aging of the population, the number of Americans with major eye conditions is increasing, particularly for cataracts and macular degeneration. What are we confronting and what can we do?
Cataracts – A Cloudy Lens
What is a cataract? A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens that causes partial or total loss of vision. The most common form is the age-related cataract. Cataracts are the number one cause of blindness in the world, although the vast majority of cataract conditions can be successfully treated with surgery, or prevented with a healthy lifestyle and supplements.
What causes cataracts? The lens of the eye lies behind the iris and the pupil works much like a camera lens. Light is focused from the lens on to the retina at the back of the eye, where an image is recorded. The lens also adjusts the eye’s focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away. The lens is made of primarily water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and allows light to pass through.
As we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens, creating a cataract. Over time, the cataract may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, resulting in diminished vision. Researchers suspect several causes of cataract, including smoking, poor diet and diabetes. Or, it may be that the protein in the lens just changes from the wear and tear it takes over the years from aging.
You don’t have to be a senior citizen to get an “age related” cataract. In fact, people can have an age-related cataract in their 40s and 50s. But during middle age, most cataracts are small and do not affect vision. While cataracts steal vision primarily after age 60, there are positive steps in diet and supplementation that can deter the theft for many. A cataract begins small and has minimal negative effect on vision initially. You may notice that your vision is blurred somewhat, similar to looking through a cloudy piece of glass. Colors may not be as bright as they once appeared. These changes in cloudiness and color are not your imagination!
As the cataract becomes larger and clouds more of the lens, a process known as “ripening” makes reading and other normal tasks more difficult. The word “cataract” literally means waterfall because for those with a “ripe” cataract, the vision simulates trying to see objects through a waterfall. The only way to know for sure you have a cataract is by having an eye examination from a qualified professional. If your eye care professional discovers a cataract, you may not need cataract surgery for several years or even ever. By having your vision tested regularly, your eye care professional can determine when you need treatment and the proper form.
If cataract surgery is prescribed, a clouded lens is removed and, in most cases, replaced with a clear, plastic lens. Cataract surgery is very successful in restoring vision, with over 1.5 million cataract surgeries done each year with an extremely high success rate. Recovery is usually rapid and surgery often performed on an out-patient basis without a hospital stay. If you are over age 60, you should have an eye examination at minimum once every two years that includes dilating your pupils. Getting a good view of the retina and optic nerve through dilation is also important in detecting eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Natural Aids for Eye Wellness in Lieu of Cataracts
What can you do naturally to ward off cataracts? Glutathione is an amino acid that is a potent antioxidant and aids in maintaining a healthy lens. Glutathione also has been shown to slow the progression of cataracts. N-Acetyl L-Cysteine combines with Vitamin C to enhance natural body production of Glutathione. Selenium and Vitamin B2 help replenish Glutathione. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) as an antioxidant, according to studies, significantly reduces diabetic cataract formation and neuropathy.
The d-alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E should be taken with 25 – 400IU daily, together with vitamin C that lowers intraocular pressure. Vitamin A at 5-10,000 IU daily, plus lutein are vital for all disorders of the eye. Lutein, together with zeaxanthin, is found in broccoli, kale and spinach. These also reduce the risk of macular degeneration. A deficiency of riboflavin, vitamin B2, has also been linked to cataracts – thus supplement with 5-50 mg daily. The minerals copper and manganese, with 1-3 mg and 10 mg daily respectively, are important for retarding the growth of cataracts and proper healing.
Avoid dairy products and sugar totally. Drink quality water and avoid direct sunlight. Wear sunglasses designed to block ultraviolet rays. Eat blueberries and cherries and foods rich in vitamin E and C, such as raw fruits and vegetables. Take bilberry extract (30 mg) and ginkgo biloba as directed. If you have cataracts, be sure to avoid antihistamines and coordinate with your health care professional for a plan of action to minimize negatives while optimizing your sight.
Macular Degeneration – Central Vision Enemy
Age-Related Macular Degeneration or AMD is an eye condition that affects your central vision. AMD is a common cause of vision loss or severe impairment among people over age of 60. Fortunately, because only the center of vision is normally affected, people rarely go blind from Age-related macular degeneration. However, AMD can sometimes make it difficult to read, drive, or perform other daily activities that require fine, central vision. Be aware though, that macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe visual loss in the United States and Europe. As a positive, peripheral and color vision are not usually affected by AMD.
The macula is in the center of the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye. As you read, light is focused onto your macula. On the macula, millions of cells change the light into nerve signals that tell the brain what you are seeing. This process yields what is described as your central vision. With your central vision, you are able to read, drive, and perform other activities that require fine, sharp, straight-ahead vision.
Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Dry AMD) affects about 90 percent of those with the condition. Although the exact cause is unknown; slowly, the light sensitive cells in the macula break down. With less of the macula working, you may start to lose central vision in the affected eye as the years go by. Dry AMD often occurs at first in just one eye, but may develop later in the other eye. Doctors to date have no way of knowing if or when both eyes may be affected.
Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD), a form found in only 10 percent of all people with AMD, accounts for 90 percent of all severe vision loss from the disease. Wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels behind the retina start to grow toward the macula. Because these new blood vessels tend to be very fragile, they will often leak blood and fluid under the macula. This leakage causes rapid damage to the macula that can lead to the loss of central vision in a short period of time.
Neither Dry nor Wet AMD causes any pain. The most common symptom of Dry AMD is slightly blurred vision. You may need more light for reading and other tasks. Also, you may find it hard to recognize faces until you are very close to the person. As Dry AMD worsens, you may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision. The blurred spot occurs because a group of cells in the macula have stopped working properly. Over time, the blurred spot may get larger and darker, taking more of your central vision.
One of the most common early signs of AMD is the presence of drusen, tiny yellow deposits in the retina. Your eye care professional can see drusen during an eye examination. The presence of drusen alone does not indicate AMD, but it does indicate the eye is at higher risk for developing more severe AMD.
Natural Aids for Eye Wellness in Lieu of Macular Degeneration
What else can we do naturally to protect against macular degeneration? Suggested are Coenzyme Q10 at 100 mg per day to improve circulation in capillaries of the eye, Coenzyme A and Grape seed extract of 10 mg per day. Grapeseed extract enhances night vision and decreases light sensitivity (photophobia). These powerful antioxidants help to nutritionally protect against macular degeneration.
Bilberry extract of 160 mg daily and eating 8 to 10 ounces of fresh blueberries, a valuable bioflavonoid, will be most beneficial. Bilberry in extract form nutritionally helps inhibit the breakdown of capillary walls by containing anthocyanins that reinforce collagen structures in the retina, thereby reducing or stopping free radical damage in this area of the eye. Bilberry has also been found to be nutritionally helpful for cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic neuropathy.
Ingest 7-50 mg of zinc (not more than 100 mg) and ginkgo biloba extract as directed to promote a natural defense against macular degeneration. Copper is also good for retina pigment epithelium. Selenium aids in regeneration of glutathione, which in turn is protective against macular degeneration.
As to vitamins, Vitamin A reduces lipofuscin, a component of unwanted drusen and also aids overcoming night blindness. Vitamin A additionally helps with xerophthalmia, or extreme dryness of the eyes and aids proper photoreceptor function. Vitamin A at 5-20,000 IU daily, plus lutein and zeaxanthin are vital for all disorders of the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in broccoli, kale and spinach with leafy dark vegetables a must for good eye health. Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin) is needed for the recycling of Glutathione.
The d-alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E should be taken with 50-400IU daily, together with vitamin C and Quercetin. Vitamin E promotes blood circulation and retards cellular aging of the eyes due to oxidation. Vitamin C is found in high concentration in healthy ocular tissue as a needed vitamin for eye health. Quercetin as a bioflavonoid protects the eye from sun radiation plus being beneficial to the diabetic eye. Quercetin reduces the leakage from damaged small blood vessels in the retina.
The photoreceptor cell function of the retina requires carotene or carotenoids. Carotenoids are yellow pigments found in the leaves of green vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and egg yolks. The blood contains the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lypopene. Taurine is an amino acid that protects the cells of the eyes from UV damage.
Lutein is a potent antioxidant that has been shown to be associated with reduced risk of both macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein blocks blue light, which saves the important rhodopsin and iodopsin pigments from damage. Note lutein is not made by the body and must be obtained by diet or supplements. MG Beta Glucan acts as an antioxidant to nutritionally promote immune response enhancement for the eyes.
Avoid alcohol, cigarette smoke, all sugars, saturated fats, trans-fats, including fried and most fast foods. Drink quality water and avoid direct sunlight. To save time and money, seek quality supplements that combine many beneficial ingredients for nutritional promotion of eye health. Be aware, be examined and protect your vision by implementing a lifestyle including quality foods and supplements.
About the Author: Frank Jordan has a post-graduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and is a co-patent holder on U.S. patents issued or in application related to the immune response in conjunction with researchers at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Dept. of Microbiology. Frank Jordan’s most recent book is “Frankly Speaking, Vol 1” which reviews 50 different common medical conditions with thoughts and suggestions. Jordan also hosted the Healthy, Wealthy and Wise national radio show heard in all 48 continental U.S. states weekdays. Learn more about Frank Jordan on the web at www.frankjordan.com .
Reprinted with permission from Immunition Reports
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