What You Need to know about Macular Degeneration
According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, Macular Degeneration is an incurable eye disease caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina (the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them through the optic nerve to the brain). This disease is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, affecting more than 10 million Americans.
Two Types of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Dry AMD occurs when the cells in the macula of the eye (the retina’s central portion) start to slowly break down, which produces blurry, blank spots in your vision. Wet AMC occurs when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and cause bleeding and fluid to travel into the macula. This will rapidly cause scarring and vision loss.
According to Prevention, Dry AMD may not cause any symptoms. The progression of Dry AMD is slow and can cause blurring or vision loss gradually. In many cases, those diagnosed with AMD have reported a slow progression of vision loss and other difficulties, such as reading or face recognition. Prevention also reported that those diagnosed with AMD stated straight lines and/or edges appeared crooked and images became blurred.
AMD can be diagnosed by your doctor, where you will be asked thorough questions about your health history and will go over all risk factors you may have. An eye exam will be performed and, in some cases, your doctor may use an Amsler Grid test that uses a “drawing of vertical and horizontal lines with a dot in the middle. You are asked to stare at the dot. If you have AMD, some of the lines will appear bent, distorted or completely missing.”
The Best Vitamins & Nutrients to Nourish the Eyes
by Nutrition Therapy Practitioner and Director of Nutrition for InVite Health, Nicole Crane, BS, NTP, breaks down some of
Vitamin A and Zinc: Vitamin A is probably the most well-known nutrient for the eyes and vision, says Crane. “Because the macula is the portion of the retina in the back of the eye involved with central vision, without zinc, vitamin A and certain carotenoids, the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration is high. Without these essential vitamins and nutrients, the brain will have a difficult time receiving the signals that allow for vision.”
Carotenoids: “Carotenoids are nature’s sunglasses. Beta carotene helps the eye filter and absorb all the colors of the visiual spectrum, which are the colors of the rainbow. Beta-Carotene, and the lesser known alpha carotene really help us see the world around us clearly and sharply.”
Vitamin C and E: Both of these vitamins are known to “protect the eyes from free radical damage which creats inflammation and can cause structural damage. These essential vitamins also defend and protect the eyes from damage from all of the toxins in our environment. Vitamin C helps to build collagen, which is the main structural protein in the eyes and in the rest of the body, as well.”
NAC: “N-Acetyl Cysteine is a powerful nutrient that helps to build glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant and detoxifier. NAC clears away the waste material that can accumulate in the retina, which damages the retinal pigmented epithelial cells layer (the layer between the retina and our blood supply)”, explains Nicole Crane, BS, NTP.
Krill Oil: “Krill contains the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are essential for keeping eyes moist and for the health of the tissues of the eye. DHA plays an incredibily important role in nerve communication between the eyes and the brain. EPA plays a very important role in regulating inflammation throughout the body, and can half the cycle of damage and inflammation caused by oxidative damage and poor diet.”