Youthful eyes at any age

Natural medicine for eye disease

As our population ages, the number of people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is predicted to increase substantially. In many parts of the world, AMD remains the most common cause of irreversible blindness. While conventional treatments for age-related eye disorders have limited efficacy, nutritional supplementation is a promising and necessary consideration to prevent and treat eye disease.
Authors of a study in the Archives of Ophthalmology (April 2009) found that the use of antioxidant and other new therapies can reduce AMD- related visual impairment and blindness by as much as 35 percent. The researchers also concluded that public prevention efforts should focus on expanding the use of antioxidant vitamins in people with early AMD.
Findings presented at the 2009 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting showed that oral supplementation with antioxidants (vitamin C,E and zinc) may improve eye health and function in people at high risk for progression to late AMD. Investigators of this study found stronger benefits from the supplement treatment after 36 months compared to testing after 12 months.

EATING FOR YOUR EYES
Regular consumption of fish, nuts, olive oil and other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, while avoiding trans fats, appears to be associated with a lower risk for developing AMD, according to two studies in the May 2009 Archives of Ophthalmology. The increasing evidence of benefit from regular fish and omega-3 intake on the risk of AMD is seen particularly in people with a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (most people consume too many refined omega-6 oils such as those from canola and safflower). Regular consumption of fish low in mercury (i.e., wild salmon, sole and trout) any daily supplementation with a high quality fish oil supplement (i.e. Nordic Naturals or NutraSea) can help significantly reduce the risk of age-related eye disorders as well as other age-related degenerative conditions such as arthritis and heart disease.
It is also important to identify and address food sensitivities and allergies, as certain foods can initiate an immune response that can trigger the inflammation commonly associated with many eye disorders. Improvement can often be seen with removing the offending foods from the diet.

EYEING LIFESTYLE

  1. Regular daily exercise promotes healthy circulation to the eyes-a key component in the prevention of vision loss and AMD.
  2. Avoid smoking, which exacerbates AMD. A high ratio of total-to-HDL “good” cholesterol is also a risk factor in the development of AMD; therefore, a healthful, balanced diet that supports proper cholesterol metabolism is important.
  3. Type 2 diabetes is often associated with loss of visual acuity as the disease progresses. Those diagnosed with or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, or any metabolic syndrome involving irregular blood sugar metabolism, such as hypo-glycemia, should seek appropriate disease management from a naturopathic physician.
  4. Extended periods of computer use can also contribute to eye strain and often exacerbates dry eye syndrome. Frequent breaks and exercising the ocular muscles (by focusing on the tip of a pencil held 15 centimetres from the eyes, then a distant spot on the wall or outside a window) for 30 seconds, several times throughout the day will help to reduce eye strain and blurred vision.

SCREENING FOR SEEING
Regular eye screening is also an important step in reducing risk of agerelated eye disorders; however, a study in the July 2009 Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that visual acuity screening may be inadequate in correctly identifying people with cataracts. There was adequate evidence that early treatment of refractive error, cataracts and AMD reduces or prevents visual acuity loss. Updated recommendations by the American Academy of Ophthalmology state that a comprehensive eye examination is recommended every one to two years for those 65 and older with-out risk factors, and every year for those 61 and older with risk factors.
Appropriate physician and ophthalmologist follow-up care is essential to link positive outcomes to early diagnosis of age-related eye disease.

SEE A HEALTHY FUTURE
As with any degenerative and age-related disease, age-related macular degeneration is preventable when early screening measures are applied and appropriate dietary and life-style practices are followed. The use of antioxidant has been clinically and scientifically demonstrated to have significant positive outcomes in both the prevention and treatment of several vision disorders.

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