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Look After Your Readers’ Eyes This October
It’s World Sight Day on 13th October 2011

‘You are what you eat’, as the famous saying goes, but it appears to have a significant scientific basis when looking specifically at the role of nutrition in eye health.

As we understand more about some of the most common conditions affecting eyesight, such as macular degeneration and cataracts, it seems that oxidative stress on the eye from damaging free radicals may play an important part in their on-set and progression. Indeed, the prevalence of cataracts worldwide is associated with the intensity and duration of sunlight, so it appears that free radicals formed by light hitting the eye may also play a role.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are naturally occurring pigments found in certain plants with potent antioxidant properties and, therefore, free radical quenchers. They are widely distributed in the body tissue and are the principal carotenoids in the eye lens. They are also uniquely concentrated in the macular region of the retina where scientists think they may help to prevent substantial amounts of short-wave blue light, which enters the eye, from reaching underlying structures involved in vision*. Lutein and zeaxanthin may therefore help protect these structures from light-induced free radical damage, which may play a role in the pathology of AMD.

It would also appear that oxidative damage to lens cell membranes might be an important factor in the initiation and progression of age-related cataracts. A review carried out at Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University suggested that dietary supplementation with preparations including lutein and zeaxanthin promote optimal visual function and significantly decrease the occurrence of cataract development and indeed AMD*.


Eye Health – Top Tips

· The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are found in dark-green leafy vegetables and in egg yolks. However, while they are important foods to have in the everyday diet, taking a supplement designed specifically for eye protection allows for far greater levels and therefore more potential benefit.

· Vitamins A, C and E are also important antioxidants.

· Vitamin A is particularly needed for night vision.

· Zinc and selenium also play a role in antioxidant protection.


If you’re writing about eye health this October, why not visit Vision2020 for more details and for information on eye health and fund-raising opportunities.

For further information about any the nutrients mentioned above, contact Hazel on 0870 066 4123 or hgray@higher-nature.co.uk.

*References for scientific research cited in this article available on request

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