Recent research shows that the oxidative damage free radicals cause to the
eyes, in particular to the macula, can be slowed and even halted in some
cases with the appropriate nutritional supplements...
The eye is a very important sensory organ, which is shown by the fact that a
large area of our brain is committed to taking in and understanding visual
information. Up to 70% of all of the sensory receptors in the body are in
the eyes. Problems with the eyes become more common as we age.
How can we support eye health, throughout our lifetime, so that our vision
remains clear and focused?
The eye is a small sphere with a diameter of about 1 inch. Only one sixth of
the eye is visible, the rest is protected in the orbital socket. There are
many accessory structures of the eye including the eyebrows, eyelids,
conjunctiva, lacrimal apparatus and eye muscles. Only a small part of the
eye is dedicated to photoreception. This area is on the posterior wall on
the inside the eyeball and is called the retina. It contains rods, for dim
light and peripheral vision, and cones, for bright light and colour vision.
The lens is situated at the front of the eyeball and its job is to focus
light on the retina. Glasses are used to help focus light through the lens
when the accommodation of the lens is inadequate or overcompensating. As we
age, the muscles that move the lens decrease functioning making the use of
glasses or contacts more common among older individuals.
There two main causes of degenerative eye conditions:
Free radical damage
Decreased blood flow to the eye
Free radicals are unstable molecules that in their bid to become more stable
must bump into healthy cells and cause damage. This can cause cell death,
alterations in genetic material and autoimmune reactions to damaged cells.
Food, water and ultraviolet radiation from the sun are the major
contributors of free radicals that build up in the eye.
The eyes reflect the overall health of the body. The vessels on the back of
the eyeball are very small and fragile. Changes in them are often the first
sign of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis.
These conditions lead to decreased blood flow to the retina. Lack of oxygen
and an accumulation of waste products eventually compromises vision.
Poor diet, environmental toxins, medications and stress all decrease the
body’s ability to neutralize free radicals and maintain healthy vessels.
This can result in eye degeneration, occurring in the following conditions:
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. It is the most common cause of
blindness worldwide. Factors that predispose one to the development of
cataracts are old age, diabetes, exposure to radiation or heavy metals, eye
injury, the use of medications, like steroids, and heredity.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in North America. It is
characterized by a rise in the pressure inside the eyeball. The pressure
causes compression of the optic nerve and permanent vision changes result.
Acute glaucoma attacks can be triggered by stress or dilation of the pupil
for long periods of time. The cause of acute glaucoma is a build up of fluid
in the eye. Fluid build up occurs because of poor drainage or an increase in
Chronic glaucoma results from waste accumulation in the eye, damage from
previous eye problems, like cataracts, or the use of medications for high
blood pressure and depression. Cortisone use can also lead to glaucoma.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of visual loss in North America.
It is caused by free radical damage to the macula, the area of the retina
responsible for central vision. Other contributors to macular degeneration
are hypertension and arteriosclerosis.
You can optimize your eye health and protect against eye disease in many
Have regular vision screenings and medical exams
Follow a healthy dietary plan.
Reduce the accumulation of toxins and waste products with
regular organ detoxification.
Have a balanced lifestyle with time for exercise and
Minimize exposure to the sun when your eyes are unprotected
and do not smoke.
Use appropriate nutritional and herbal supplements.
Vision screenings are an important part of maintaining eye health because
vision changes can be gradual and may not be noticeable to an individual in
normal daily activities. General physical exams, by your health care
provider, include fundoscopy, an examination of the retina. This inspection
may reveal precursors to eye disease, such as small changes in the retinal
A diet high in antioxidants including whole grains, raw fruits and raw
vegetables decreases free radical damage. Eat foods containing lutein and
zeaxanthin like broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, spinach and turnip
greens. Eat foods rich in flavinoids and vitamins C and E like blueberries,
blackberries, cherries, and other fruits and vegetables. Yellow fruits and
vegetables should be consumed for their vitamin A content.
Support the cardiovascular system to decrease arteriosclerosis, prevent
hypertension and maximize eye health. Avoid salt, sugar and animal fats.
Consume foods that are high in vitamin E, like avocados and wheat germ, to
protect the vessels. Essential fatty acids decrease cholesterol levels. Try
using flax seed, walnut or pumpkin seed oil.
Detoxification promotes eye health by reducing the build-up of toxins and
waste products throughout the body. To help detoxify the body avoid packaged
or fast foods, coffee, black tea, chocolate, alcohol, white sugar, salt,
condiments, tobacco, dairy products, fried food, preservatives or artificial
sweeteners. Consume 2L of filtered water daily, herbal teas and 100% pure
fruit juices. Eat fresh or steamed fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean
meats, fish, soy products, nuts, seeds, cold pressed vegetable oils and
spices. Drink a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon each
morning to regulate bowel and liver function. Use supplementation to focus
the detoxification on one or more organs.
Lifestyle factors, like emotional stress and inactivity, negatively affect
eye health. Stress increases the production of free radicals. When an
individual is under stress their diet tends to suffer, which can also
compromise eye health. Inactivity decreases circulation to the whole body
including the eye.
To prevent free radical damage to the eyes avoid direct sunlight. Use
sunglasses, with full UV protection, to protect your eyes. Smoking generates
large amounts of free radicals and is thought to be a risk factor for
degenerative eye conditions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MAINTAIN EYE HEALTH:
TAKE ANTIOXIDANTS LIKE BILBERRY, GRAPE SEED, BETA CAROTENE,
WEAR GOOD SUNGLASSES
DO NOT SMOKE
DON'T DRINK COFFEE; IT CONSTRICTS BLOOD VESSELS
EAT LOTS OF VEGETABLES
KEEP YOUR BLOOD SUGAR STABLE
TAKE SUPPLEMENTS LIKE GINGKO OR COQ10 TO IMPROVE YOUR
DID YOU KNOW? (EYE HEALTH FACTS)
BOTH CATARACTS & MACULAR DEGENERATION ARE CAUSED BY FREE