Protect Your Vision
Nutrition for Your Eyes
What handicap do people fear the most? If you guessed blindness, you are right, according to the National Eye Health Education Program of the National Institutes of Health. Our eyes bring in more than 90% of the information that enters our brain. And yet, according to the Louis Harris survey, only 41% of all Americans have an annual eye exam and only 46% have a regular eye doctor.
Vision loss is a catastrophic issue and one particularly facing the aging population. However, proper nutrition can help prevent, and possibly reverse, the most common visual disorders, namely cataracts and macular degeneration. “The traditional thinking is that as age increases, visual sensitivity decreases,” says D. Max Snodderly, Ph.D., head of the laboratory at The Schepens Eye Research Institute. “But what we are saying is, maybe that’s not inevitable. Improved nutrition could help to retard the loss of visual sensitivity with age.”
Cataracts are the leading cause of impaired vision and blindness overall, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 65. Cataracts are opacities or white cloudy spots on the normally transparent lens of the eye. Vision for cataract sufferers is somewhat like trying to see through eyeglasses smeared with salad oil. Macular degeneration is a deterioration or breakdown of the macula. For macular degeneration sufferers, vision is like having a penny taped to the center of your glasses—poor central vision but better peripheral vision.
The consensus is that AMD is a nutritional deficiency disease. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are most strongly associated with a reduced risk for AMD. “Increasing the consumption of foods rich in certain carotenoids, in particular, dark green, leafy vegetables may decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration.” Reported Johanna M. Seddon, M.D., of the Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School.
Although current research does not provide strong conclusive evidence to support the potential role of antioxidants in preventing macular degeneration, many physicians and ophthalmologists do recommend supplementing with these nutrients if it is not contraindicated by other health conditions. In addition, the elimination of the most common risk factors should be carefully considered. Smoking and cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, hypertension) are high among the list of risks for AMD, as is a low dietary intake of pigmented antioxidants found in green, orange, and red vegetables and fruits.
Blueberries are recommended for good eye health because they contain high levels of antioxidants, compounds that neutralize free radicals. Free radicals can attack the lens membrane, causing it to harden and relay a fuzzy image. That is why many people who turn 40 joke that “their arms aren’t long enough to read.” To get the antioxidants that researchers recommend for eye health, you would have to eat a half-cup of blueberries every day. This isn’t practical for most people, so Melaleuca combined 100 milligrams of blueberry, and 20 milligrams of bilberry extracts in each NutraView capsule.
“Lutein in the lens acts as nature’s own sunglasses,” says Steven Pratt, M. D., senior staff member at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Ca. Due to the ongoing research of lutein’s benefits to eye health, Centrum recently added ¼ milligram to each dose, even though the research on lutein suggests that you must consume six milligrams per day to get the eye care benefits of this nutrient. In other words, to get
the research-based recommended dose of lutein by taking Centrum, you would need to take 24 tablets per day. In contrast, one capsule of NutraView provides 10 milligrams of lutein. That’s almost twice the minimum amount recommended by research, all for about 54¢ a day.
Paul Harvey advertised a popular product called “Ocular Nutrition” which also contains 10 milligrams of lutein per daily dose. The price for this product is $44.93 for a 25 day supply or $1.79 per day. That’s more than three times the cost of NutraView for the same concentration of lutein!
With Melaleuca’s NutraView, in one capsule, you receive 10 milligrams of lutein (which protects the eye, especially the macula, from free radical damage), 20 milligrams of bilberry (which helps maintain normal circulation to the eye and helps support night vision), plus 100 milligrams of blueberry powder (a super-powerful antioxidant called the “vision fruit” in Japan), and 150 milligrams of vitamin C (which has been proven to maintain the health of the lens). All of this for only $15.99 for a one month supply. It is exciting to know that certain nutrients may help us to enjoy the miracle of vision far longer than ever before.
Aesoph, Lauri M., N.D., Eat Right for Sharp Eyesight.
Macular Degeneration International 6700 N. Oracle Road, Tucson, AZ 85704.
Quillin, Patrick, Ph.D., R. D., C.N.S., Director of nutrition at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Inc., Tulsa, OK, Sight For Sore Eyes.