Nutrition and Macular Degeneration

Nutrition and Macular Degeneration

Let's talk nutrition again!

Nutrition is vital to our physical, mental and emotional health. Let's face it, when we eat right, exercise regularly and hydrate our body, it does wonders for our mood. It's not only important for our psyche, but as we age, it becomes increasingly critical to our visual health.

I would like to shed light on a process known as oxidation. Mostly, we are familiar with oxidation as it is related to metal. When metal oxidizes (or is exposed to free radicals) it results in corrosion and rust. Our bodies also undergo a similar 'corrosive' process in which our tissues are exposed to harmful free radicals resulting in disease and aging changes. This is especially relevant in the macula, which is an area in the retina responsible for our central vision. In order to counteract this damaging process, it is important to enhance our antioxidative abilities through nutrition and other preventive measures.

Our macula is constantly exposed to free radicals stemming from direct exposure to blue/violet light. Sunlight, in addition to digital device use, contributes to overexposure. There is macular pigment present which acts as a protective shield for the macula and helps to counteract oxidation. However, factors including age, genetics, poor diet, smoking and excessive exposure to blue/violet light can deplete healthy levels of pigment. This deficiency can result in the development of macular degeneration.

The good news is, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! We can enhance our density of macular pigment with healthy lifestyle changes and, thus, decrease our risk of developing macular degeneration. Carotenoids, which are present in the macular pigment, include Meso-zeaxanthin, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. While these elements can be found in many foods, including kale, spinach, collard greens, peas, broccoli and eggs, you would need to consume an unrealistic amount in order to reap the benefits. For that reason, we often recommend supplementation. 

During a comprehensive eye examination, your optometrist will ask questions, evaluate your retina, discuss your family history and assess your risk of developing macular degeneration. Come in today to assess your visual health and determine if you, too, can benefit from supplements that could improve your vision for many years to come!