How To Save Your Eyesight From Aging (with Supplements)
You can save your eyesight from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with specific supplements supported by scientific research (and perhaps with 30 minutes of walking).
MY EYES were so tired that my head hurt. It was from the many hours I had stared at my computer screen over the last few days. “If this continues”, I muttered to myself, “I’m going to become one of those people squinting at restaurant menus as I search for my glasses.”
Right about then, I saw an email pop into my inbox from the Dr. Oz-affiliated website, Sharecare. The subject title: “2 ways to save your eyesight from aging”. I’m not too fond of the advice dispensed by Sharecare, because I think it’s so basic, so my immediate thought was, “Yeah, they’ll say something like, ‘go take a walk’.”
That’s exactly the first suggestion offered, and I quote:
“…people who walk at least three times a week are less likely than couch potatoes to develop that advanced form of AMD [age-related macular degeneration] known as wet AMD.” (1)
Now, I’m not saying that walking isn’t helpful to improve AMD, among other health-related things, it’s just the timing of this advice to my sense about Sharecare’s pedestrian bromides made me laugh.
But it got me thinking about why my eyesight continues to be good, while my relatives and friends’ eyesight continues to decline as they age?
So, I looked around and found what the pros have to say about it. Seems like I’ve been on the right track, and now you will be too. Read on to learn how to save your eyesight from aging.
In this article, you’ll discover:
- What AMD is and how it might affect you.
- How to prevent or reverse AMD to save your eyesight.
Let’s dig in…
What Is AMD and How Might It Affect You?
AMD is the acronym for age-related macular degeneration. If there ever was a self-explanatory term, this is it:
- It’s age-related because as you get older, the potential for this condition rises.
- It’s macular because that’s where it happens — near the center of the retina.
- It’s degeneration because that’s what happens — the macular deteriorates over time.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes it like this:
“Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a problem with your retina. It happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. With AMD you lose your central vision. You cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far. But your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal. For instance, imagine you are looking at a clock with hands. With AMD, you might see the clock’s numbers but not the hands.”
OK, you got the description of AMD and saw its depiction, but there’s nothing like video:
You’re more likely to develop AMD if you:
- Eat a diet high in saturated fat (found in foods like meat, butter, and cheese)
- Are overweight
- Smoke cigarettes
- Are over 50 years old
- Have a family history of AMD
- Are Caucasian
So, what are the odds for you?
As reported by NEI, as the proportion of people in the U.S. age 65+ grows larger, more people are developing AMD. I didn’t find more recent data (nor did I look very hard), but from 2000-2010, the number of people with AMD grew 18%, from 1.75 million to 2.07 million.
Not a pleasant picture, but 18% is a lower risk potential than our chances of getting heart disease (over 50%) or cancer (about 50%). Nonetheless, why not do something to reduce your odds of getting AMD (or improving the condition) if it’s simple to do — and it just might be!
How To Save Your Eyesight by Preventing or Possibly Reversing AMD
That Sharecare email I mentioned featured Dr. Michael Rosen, a sidekick of Dr. Oz and often seen on his TV show. Here’s a summary of what Dr. Rosen had to say:
- AMD is the most common cause of visual loss in people over the age of 50. It smudges out your central vision, you can’t see real well, and you have to look at things from the side.
- Protect yourself from getting AMD by:
- Walking — people who walk at least three times a week for 30 minutes are less likely than couch potatoes to develop that advanced form of AMD known as wet AMD.
- Eat fish, such as trout or salmon — consuming 600 milligrams or more of those omega three fatty acids (the healthy fats found in fish), makes you 30% more likely to keep up good eyesight.
Dr. Rosen is a medical doctor, one focused on anti-aging, and I don’t dispute his advice. I just think there’s more you can do to reverse or prevent AMD than he covered, at least early and intermediate onset AMD; and the research backs up this assertion.
Researchers at the NEI found that daily intake of certain high-dose vitamins and minerals can slow progression of the disease in people who have intermediate AMD, and those who have late AMD in one eye.
These are the vitamin supplements the NEI suggests to save your eyesight from aging:
- 500 milligrams of vitamin C
- 400 international units of vitamin E
- 80 mg zinc as zinc oxide
- 2 mg copper as cupric oxide (Links to multi-vitamin/mineral designed for AMD)
- 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin
Alas, I may now know the secret to my good eyesight, despite staring at screens all the time and, no, I don’t particularly think it’s due to walking about two miles each day.
Nor to I think that my good eyesight is due to the basic vitamins I take, such as those listed above, except for lutein and zeaxanthin — they make a difference, but perhaps not as much as astaxanthin.
It is believed that lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin in the macula block blue light from reaching the underlying structures in the retina, thereby reducing the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration (AMD). (2)
Yes, “meso-zeaxanthin” is a new one to me. I just learned that it’s one of the three naturally occurring macular carotenoids found in nature: lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. (3)
But what about astaxanthin? Sure sounds a lot like zeaxanthin. So what’s the difference and why add it to the AMD-prevention arsenal?
Most advice you get about preventing or diminishing AMD doesn’t mention astaxanthin, perhaps because unlike the other cartoneiods, it isn’t a macular caroteniod like zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxantin and luten . (Caroteniods are pigment compounds responsible for the bright color of some fruits, vegetables and seafood.)
Does that suggest that astaxanthin doesn’t have a role in helping with AMD?
Not according to Dr. Joseph Mercola. In this article, Astaxanthin: The Most Powerful Nutrient Ever Discovered for Eye Health, he offers this summary of his findings on the matter:
- Scientists have discovered astaxanthin is a “super nutrient.” Its free radical scavenging activity is more potent than the antioxidant activities of similar carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene, and lutein.
- Astaxanthin has a long list of health benefits, including protecting you from eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It was discovered that astaxanthin easily crosses into the tissues of the eye and exerts its effects safely and with more potency than any of the other carotenoids, without adverse reactions.
- There is also evidence linking astaxanthin to cancer prevention, improved muscle endurance and fat metabolism, and sunburn and radiation protection.
- The recommended dosage of astaxanthin is 2 to 4mg. You may obtain the antioxidant from krill oil, an omega-3 supplement. However, check krill oil labels first, as each has different concentrations of astaxanthin.
Dr. Mercola’s assessment jibes with what I’ve read on the matter, and why astaxanthin nestles nicely in my box of commonly used supplements, and why, as I’ve said, I think its had a role in my good eyesight.
You need not only get astaxanthin from krill oil, or other fishy things, as you can buy it all by itself. A brand highly ranked by Amazon.com also happens to be what I use, BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin.
Remember these three things:
- You have a sufficiently large chance of getting Age-related macular degeneration, particularly if you’re Caucasian, that it makes sense to take some carotenioid-based supplements to help avoid getting AMD, or improve the condition if you already have it.
- Caroteniod-based supplements useful for AMD include lutein, zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin and astaxanthin.
- As long as you’re supplementing to protect your eyesight from aging, consider adding vitamin C, E, zinc oxide and cupric oxide and some form of omega 3 fatty acids, like fish oil.