How to Slash Your Risk of Blindness

The most common cause of blindness in people over age 55 in Western industrialized nations is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It affects over 1.8 million Americans over the age of 40, with approximately 8 million more at risk. Sufferers can become debilitated and unable to read, recognize faces, or drive.

AMD occurs when abnormal blood cells grow in the eye, damage the retina, and blur central vision.

The most common form of macular degeneration is the dry type. It is caused by a combination of oxidative stress and cumulative exposure to the blue light from the sun.

The human eye contains the highest concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin in the body. The highest concentration of zeaxanthin is in the vision sensing part of the eye, the fovea. Two and a half times more zeaxanthin than lutein is found here.

When the eyes become chronically short changed of dietary zeaxanthin, the retinal pigment loses density over time, resulting in the loss of central vision.

Although age related macular degeneration damage to the eyes is permanent, the impairment can be slowed by increasing the optical density of the retina. Researchers believe the best way to do this is to increase your dietary intake of zeaxanthin and lutein, as well as high antioxidant, high polyphenolic nutrients.

This is a list of twelve foods that contain the highest amount of zeaxanthin (mcg per 100 grams of food): NingXia wolfberry, dried (27,800), Egg yolk (1,253), Yellow cornmeal (457), Spinach, raw (331), Turnip greens (267), Collards, drained (266), Lettuce, romaine, raw (187), Kale (173), Tangerines, raw (112), Orange juice, frozen concentrate (80), Oranges, raw (74).

If you have macular degeneration or want to prevent it, here are some simple steps you can take to protect your vision:

(1) Get plenty of antioxidants-vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and the mineral zinc: These carotenoids are found in large quantities in berries, fruits, and green vegetables.

(2) Get plenty of zeaxanthin and lutein: These carotenoids are found in large quantities in dark colored berries. The NingXia wolfberry is the richest known source of zeaxanthin and antioxidants.

(3) Take fish oil or cod liver oil regularly: A fat found in fish (DHA) may help protect and promote healthy retinal function.

(4) Avoid trans fats: A diet high in partially hydrogenated oils appears to contribute to macular degeneration.

(5) Use sunglasses or hat: Covering your eyes from the direct rays of the sun has been shown to reduce retinal oxidative stress.

Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration by 50 percent.

Consuming foods high in antioxidants are probably more effective than taking isolated supplements.