Can Macular Degeneration Be Reversed? 2
Reversing Macular Degeneration
Falling ill is never an enjoyable experience. However, we are typically able to use the knowledge that in time we will recover to push ourselves through the worst phases of an illness. Knowing that better days are just hours away helps us to maintain hope. In the case of an irreversible illness it becomes far more difficult to maintain a positive outlook. We can wish for a reduction in symptoms or even a cure, but we are never sure that they will arrive.
Macular degeneration is a disease in which the macula and retina are damaged, often resulting in vision loss. In fact, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among elderly Western populations. With the speed at which macular degeneration progresses and the widespread occurrence of the disease, a macular degeneration diagnosis may make one feel like vision loss is inevitable. Luckily, more recent research is showing that changes in diet can do wonders to guard against, slow the progression of, and possibly even reverse some of the symptoms of macular degeneration.
Intake of Vitamins, Minerals, and Phytochemicals
A research study conducted by the National Eye Institute found that supplementation of key nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and copper helped to slow both vision loss and the progression of intermediate macular degeneration. Additional research took this a step further, looking at the effects of a category of phytochemicals called carotenoids.
Apparently there is a bit of truth to the old adage that eating carrots is beneficial for one’s eyes. Carotenoids are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers their bright orange, yellow, and red hues. Types of carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene, play a critical role in maintaining eye health. These carotenoids aid in guarding against vision loss while also improving one’s ability to see colors and fine detail. Additionally, they also play a role in protecting our eyes against the damaging effects of the UV light we encounter outdoors as well as the blue light that emanates from our laptops, phones and other digital devices.
Additional Nutrients to Aid in Eye Health
While adequate intake of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals mentioned above is critical for eye health, there exist a few additional compounds that also show promise. Taurine is an organic acid found in its highest concentration in meats. Within the body, a high concentration of taurine is found in the retina’s photoreceptor cells and is thought to protect the eye from UV damage.
Omega 3 fatty acids - most often found in fatty fish - also play a role in eye health. Omega 3 fatty acids help to reduce systemic inflammation and may be able to reduce intraocular pressure.
A proper diet, rich in key nutrients, can do wonders to improve wellbeing and guard against disease. The vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and additional compounds mentioned are particularly beneficial for eye health. However, these nutrients are not just for those who are concerned over their vision; they are a great addition to any balanced nutrition plan. Do you currently take a supplement to help get the above recommendations? We’d love to hear about it!
Dr. Jenna Zigler
- Dr. Jenna Zigler
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Will I Go Blind From Macular Degeneration? 1
Does everyone with Macular Degeneration eventually go blind?
A person who has been diagnosed with macular degeneration is naturally concerned about permanently losing their sight since the eye disease is the number one cause of severe blindness.
What is Macular Degeneration?
At the front of an eye there’s a lens and an opening, which both adjust to bring objects in focus for the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is a delicate tissue that’s very sensitive to light, similar to the film in a camera. The macula is found in the middle of the retina where the incoming light is focused. It is responsible for all central vision, including color.
Macular degeneration occurs when the cells of the macula become damaged, then stop working properly. It is generally an age-related condition. However, people who are younger, even children, can develop a form of macular degeneration known as macular dystrophy.
What are the symptoms?
There are two forms of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Their causes are mostly unknown. The macula starts to deteriorate and central vision slowly breaks down. It often occurs in just one eye initially but eventually spreads to both eyes. In the earlier stages, central vision may become blurred or distorted.
The dry form develops over a period of several months. Patients may become very sensitive to light and/or actually see lights that are not actually there. As the disease gets worse, a dark, blurry spot may appear in the middle of the vision. This spot appears because cells in the macula have stopped working. Over time, the blurred spot may get larger and darker, reducing more of the central vision. Wet macular degeneration can develop at any time and is often thought of as the more severe form of AMD.
What’s the risk of blindness?
The wet form of macular degeneration is the more severe of the two. It occurs as new blood vessels behind the retina start to grow toward the macula. According to brightfocus.org, the wet form affects about 10% of people with macular degeneration. The risk of vision loss is significant, but it’s not absolute and can be prevented with prompt and proper treatment. No one will ever go completely blind from macular degeneration.
Although most cases of wet macular degeneration are due to genetics, there are a number of lifestyle and dietary factors that can affect the risk of developing the dry form of the eye disease. A study conducted by the National Eye Institute found that higher levels of antioxidants, like pycnogenol or grape seed extract, taken daily in combination with zinc, can reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration by 25%.
Other studies have noted beneficial changes to a diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale. Ultraviolet light also can damage the retina and increase the risk of developing macular degeneration. Therefore, it is extremely important to protect eyes when outdoors with a great pair of UV protected sunglasses.
As always, knowledge is power so getting the latest information about macular degeneration is extremely important. Any tips you’ve heard that we may have missed? Let us know below!
Dr. Jenna Zigler
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- Dr. Jenna Zigler
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