Macular Degeneration is a condition that affects your vision and is the number one reason for vision loss today.
This condition affects more than 10 million Americans and at this present time, is considered to be an incurable eye disease.
Macular Degeneration begins as the deterioration of the middle portion of the retina, which is the part of our eye that records everything that we see and is also responsible for sending them to the optic nerve to the brain.
What Are the Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration usually include blurred vision with a dim or blurry spot in the middle of your vision.
The spot will continue to get bigger over time. It is more common in older adults over the age of 60. Your ophthalmologist will instruct you to check your vision every day and let them know if you notice any changes in your vision.
What are the Treatment Options I Have?
There have been several large research studies that have concluded that there are certain vitamins that can help reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration.
If your supplement has vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper, you are taking the right formula to get the right nutrients to reduce your risk. In more recent studies, there are more vitamins that can reduce your risk for AMD. Lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids have been added for more benefits for the reduction of AMD.
How Does Vitamin A Effect Macular Degeneration?
Vitamin A is an antioxidant vitamin that is extremely beneficial for vision. There are several antioxidant compounds that also play an important role in other functions that affect your body. Bone growth and your immune system need vitamin A to help combat viruses and bacteria.
Vitamin A also helps in the reduction of respiratory problems and other diseases that are potentially contagious.
There are actually two different types of Vitamin A. Retinol Vitamin A is available through animal-derived foods and most commonly found in beef, chicken liver, whole milk, and cheese. Provitamin A is the other version of vitamin A, but this one comes from eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
These carotenoids can be converted into retinol after it has been ingested. Some great examples of provitamin A carotenoids are carrots, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupes.
Vitamin A plays a really big role in the reduction of vision loss due to macular degeneration (AMD). There have been many different research studies that have concluded this, one, in particular, is the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).
This was sponsored by the National Eye Institute. In this study, people with mild or moderate AMD were instructed to take a multi-vitamin daily that included vitamin A in its ingredients. Other ingredients were vitamin C, E, Zinc, and copper.
The researchers had the testers take the multi-vitamin for a six-year period. After the study was completed, the researchers came to the conclusion that the people who took the multi-vitamin every day like they were supposed to have about a 25 percent reduction of the risk of advanced AMD.
How Do You Use Vitamin A for Macular Degeneration?
Vitamin A is an essential part of helping reduce the risk of macular degeneration. This means that vitamin A should be in your diet. Beta-carotene rich foods, like carrots, are an essential part of good nutrition and maintaining good vision habits.
There are several animal-based foods that are rich in vitamin A including beef liver, chicken liver, and ricotta cheese. There are also plant-based foods that are rich in vitamin A as well, like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and spinach. You should make sure that you can include several of these listed foods in your diet.
There are several different recipes and cookbooks that are aimed at helping those with Macular Degeneration include enough vitamin A in their diets. In the cookbook, Eat Right for Your Sight, there are a total of 83 different recipes that are rich in all the nutrients that your body needs, but especially rich in vitamin A. A few examples of the recipes that can be found inside of this book include:
- Carrot Cumin Soup – rich in beta-carotene, vitamin A, antioxidants and other minerals that your body needs. Carrots are the highest source of vitamin A in vegetables. Two carrots equal four time the daily recommended amount of vitamin A.
- Spicy Udon Noodles – this recipe is great for cancer prevention, heart health, and eye health.
- Red Curry Vegetables with Coconut Sauce – with edamame, you’ll get the protein that you need along with all the amino acid building blocks plus antioxidants. Grapes are in this recipe as well, which recent research as discovered may also help reduce age-related macular degeneration.
There is more and more research being dedicated to the findings associated with Macular Degeneration and one of those has to deal with fish. In a study conducted by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, the study concluded that fish should be another delicacy that people suffering with AMD should be adding to their dinner plates more often.
The study suggests that the highest levels of fish consumption, which is more than two servings a week, were about 45 percent less likely to begin developing AMD than those that did not eat fish. In a different study conducted by Brian Chua and researchers from The University of Sydney, they experienced the same findings. They found eating one serving of fish once a week were less likely to have AMD by about 40 percent.
What Other Supplements Can Prevent Macular Degeneration?
Vitamin A and other supplements have proven themselves to be key in the treatment of Macular Degeneration. The other supplements play a big part in the reduction as well. The vitamins need to include not only vitamin A, but vitamins C and E as well. Zine and Copper make themselves known in the ingredients of these supplements as well.
Vitamin C is not only beneficial to your immune system but for your eyes as well. This supplement helps your body to form and keep up connective tissues like collagen that is found inside the cornea of your eyes. Vitamin C is also responsible for healthy blood vessels, which include the ones inside of your retina.
Vitamin C is known to help stop the forming and actually reduce the effects of macular degeneration. Humans cannot product vitamin C themselves, so we have to get this supplement from another outlet somehow, usually through dietary means.
There are several different food options that have really optimal amounts of Vitamin C inside of them, including sweet red peppers, strawberries, orange juice, broccoli, and sweet green peppers. Vitamin C is also found in other citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes, and green, leafy vegetables.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps keep the membranes of different cells in shape so they can defend the body against damage caused by free radicals. These metabolic by-products are really harmful to the body. The E in vitamin E stands for eight compounds that are crucial to the supplements makeup.
They are comprised of tocopherols and tocotrienols, with alpha-tocopherol being the most active form of the supplement. Vitamin E is really helpful for your eye health in many different ways. There has been researching that has proven that vitamin E will help in reducing the effects of macular degeneration in those individuals who are showing early signs of developing the disease.
Out of about 5,000 completing an Age-Related Eye Disease Study, these individuals have a 25 percent lower risk of developing AMD. Most doctors will recommend that you take a multi-vitamin daily, and to make sure that vitamin E, as well as vitamin C and A, are all included on the label. Vitamin E can be found by dietary means as well, being found in sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, avocados, and spinach.
There are certain mineral supplements that help your body and your eyes be able to absorb all of the vitamins that they need so badly. Zinc is probably one of the most needed minerals because it helps assist in the absorption of vitamin A and helps reduce the number of free radicals. Zinc can help fight off the beginning symptoms of macular degeneration and even night blindness.
Zinc is found in a lot of different meats including oysters and seafood, but mostly in beef. Zinc is also found in eggs, black-eyed peas, wheat germ, and tofu.
Selenium is another mineral that helps your body with the absorption of vitamins, this time, with the absorption of vitamin E. Selenium is found in Brazil nuts and in seafood, especially oysters.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that are found inside of vegetables but are also found in really high values inside of the macula, which is inside of the human eye. It is believed that Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the macula will block certain blue lights that can reach the retina.
This, in turn, helps stop the risks of damage that could lead to macular degeneration. There have been several bits of research published in different publications that suggest that the combination of lutein and zeaxanthin can actually help slow the progression of AMD, or either help prevent the disease in its entirety. This is extremely beneficial for those who have the disease already and are looking for ways to stop the progression naturally.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are usually found in green leafy vegetables and other types of green and yellow vegetables as well. They are both also found in egg yolks but not enough to counter the effects from the green leafy vegetables.
There are certain recipes that have a lot of these two carotenoids inside of them, including sunset gazpacho and tempeh and pine nuts. There are certain supplements that have lutein and zeaxanthin in them as well. There is not a recommended daily allowance of lutein and zeaxanthin, however, some experts suggest that you can safely ingest six milligrams or less a day and that will help your body receive the amount that it needs to get the maximum amount of the benefits.
There are several different supplements that are available over the counter that contain really great amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin such as MacularProtect Complete (ScienceBased Health), OcuGuard Plus (TwinLab), and Ocuvite (Bausch + Lomb). You can get lutein from marigold flowers and zeaxanthin is commonly found in red peppers.
If you start taking a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement, you should make sure that it is a higher quality product to ensure that you are getting the right amount of the carotenoids that you need. You should also talk to your doctor before you begin taking any supplements on a regular basis.
As of today, the research that has been conducted on lutein and zeaxanthin have determined that there is no toxic levels or side effects from taking too much of these carotenoids. There have only been certain cases in which the individual ate too many carrots or too much yellow and green citrus fruits like lemons and limes, and there is a harmless side effect that develops.
Your skin will actually begin to change colors to a yellow-orange color, a condition that is called carotenemia. Although it is somewhat similar to jaundice, it just happens because the individual has been eating too much of carotenoid-rich foods. This can be avoided by simply cutting back on the amount of those types of foods in your diet.
Overall, if you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, you will need to totally revamp your diet to make sure that you are getting the necessary vitamins and minerals that you need to help slow the progression of your eye disease.
You will need to make sure that all of the foods that you eat are rich in Vitamins C and E, but especially rich in Vitamin A. You will also need to make sure that you have room in your diet for zine and selenium, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin.
These types of supplements will help to slow down the progression of macular degeneration and help you keep your vision for as long as possible. Remember to discuss this supplements and diet changes with your doctor before you begin a specific regimen.