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Dry eye affects up to 40 million Americans, has many causes, and a variety of symptoms. Those who suffer from dry eye know one thing: that it can be very uncomfortable. Common dry eye symptoms include scratchiness or grittiness, the feeling of a foreign particle in the eye, redness and even excessive reflex watering.
Attacking the cause vs. the symptoms
The underlying factor in dry eye syndrome is inflammation. Reducing inflammation on the surface of the eye and regulating the glands that produce tears are essential to effectively managing dry eye. Artificial tears and rewetting drops may offer temporary relief, but this only treats the symptom.
How the tear film affects dry eye
The tear film has three layers: a water layer, an oil layer and a mucous layer. The mucous layer is located on the eye surface and provides natural lubrication. The next layer is the water layer, produced by a gland under the upper eyelid. Finally, the outermost layer is the oil layer, which is produced by glands along the rim of the eyelid; this layer protects the water layer from evaporating too quickly. When any or all of the layers are not functioning correctly, the tears may become unstable or the tears may evaporate too quickly, resulting in dry eye.
Common causes of dry eye
During winter months, many experience dry eye as humidity levels drop and home heating systems are activated resulting in drier air. This often causes tears to evaporate more quickly. Other leading causes of dry eye include aqueous gland dysfunction. In this situation, tear-producing glands do not produce enough tear volume, or there is less-than-optimal tear composition. Contact lens wearers are particularly susceptible to dry eye as soft lens materials require additional lubrication and a balanced tear film is vital to successful lens wearing. In many cases, medicated eye drops may exacerbate dry eye in contact lens wearers. It is estimated that up to half of contact lens wearers discontinue use due to discomfort often caused by dry eye.
Relieving dry eye
Many doctors and patients reach for an eye drop to provide immediate relief of dry eye. Unfortunately, that immediate relief is temporary. Much has been written about Omega-3s in recent years including its use as an effective treatment of dry eye. As a natural anti-inflammatory, Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that support healthy tear production and keep eyes moisturized. In addition to Omega-3s, other anti-inflammatory ingredients like vitamins A, D3, E, turmeric extract, green tea, and evening primrose oil, can significantly accelerate the time it takes to feel dry eye relief. Many eye care professionals are recommending oral anti-inflammatories as a first step to reduce ocular surface inflammation and regulate gland function without the unwanted side effects noted with topical agents.
Managing dry eye
Leading eye care professionals agree that dry eye is an ongoing issue that cannot be cured, but can be effectively managed. Oral dry eye vitamins from brands like EyePromise feature all natural ingredients, and provide dry eye relief from the inside by reducing inflammation and regulating healthy tear production.
Get a jump on dry eye season this winter
Consult with your eye doctor about an exam to determine the type of dry eye you may have, and for more information on oral anti-inflammatory eye vitamins.
Did your mother or grandmother tell you that your vision would improve by eating carrots? She was partially correct, in that eating fruits and vegetables can improve vision, but it’s also important to understand how the eye is affected by proper nutrition.
Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that two dietary nutrients protect and enhance vision: zeaxanthin (zee-uh-zan-thin) and lutein. For casual and serious athletes or those who lead an active lifestyle, this information is very important because eating a diet rich in those nutrients can result in significant visual improvements.
Zeaxanthin and lutein are macular pigments that function like a pair of internal sunglasses to filter harmful blue light and enhance vision. Thick or dense macular pigments protect the photoreceptors which are responsible for and vital to our vision. Healthy macular pigment density provides a host of visual performance benefits including:
* Improved contrast sensitivity – for example, seeing a white golf ball or baseball against a light blue sky.
* Enhanced glare recovery time – recovering faster from temporary “blinding” caused by high intensity lighting such as automobile or stadium lights.
* Reduced light sensitivity and visual discomfort – experiencing less discomfort on bright sunny days or other times when exposed to bright light.
* Increased visual processing speed – seeing an object more clearly facilitates visual processing speed, enabling improved reaction time.
So, how does one increase macular pigment density to get these benefits? One way is to add these nutrients to a diet or take them as an eye vitamin. The average U.S. daily diet doesn’t consist of an adequate quantity of fruits and vegetables necessary to achieve a proper macular pigment density in the retina. Dr. Stuart Richer, a pioneer in ocular nutrition recommends that 50 percent of daily caloric intake should be derived from fruits and vegetables. The average American only obtains 8 to 10 percent of their daily caloric intake from these sources.
Because of this, zeaxanthin is scarce in the U.S. diet. To achieve an adequate daily intake of dietary zeaxanthin, one must consume a significant quantity of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. For example, one would have to eat 20 ears of corn or 10 orange bell peppers per day to obtain 8 to 10 milligrams of dietary zeaxanthin – the minimum daily intake most commonly associated with improved visual performance. Since eating large quantities of fruits and vegetables is impractical for many, dietary zeaxanthin supplementation is an alternative.
People who took an eye vitamin containing 8 milligrams of dietary zeaxanthin daily for one year in the FDA-registered clinical study, “The Zeaxanthin and Visual Function Trial” by Richer and his colleagues improved several aspects of their visual performance including: seeing 8.5 more letters on an eye chart, improved vision while driving, fine details more clearly, and elimination of blind spots in their visual field.
Dr. Larry Lampert, a leader in the sports vision field, emphasizes the visual performance benefits of optimal nutrition and zeaxanthin supplementation. Lampert has worked with professional athletes from the PGA, LPGA, MLB, NFL, ATP, and is one of only 450 doctors worldwide to have completed a fellowship in developmental vision. “Many athletes take their vision for granted, unaware that there are simple, natural ways to maintain healthy eyes and improve athletic performance,” Lampert says. “They also need to consume certain nutrients to sustain optimal visual performance. Numerous studies reveal that the key nutrient for maintaining visual performance is dietary zeaxanthin.”
Whether you’re an athlete or someone who simply wants to improve their vision, zeaxanthin and lutein can help. Eat more brightly colored fruits and vegetables regularly and take an eye vitamin like EyePromise that contains natural forms of these important ingredients at an optimal daily amount. Increasing the density of macular pigments in your eyes to protect your visual cells and enhance your visual performance.
As we age, the quality of our vision can change, and for most of us that entails wearing glasses, contacts or maybe even undergoing surgical procedures. But did you know that your vision can improve through nutrition and supplementation?
The back of the eye contains a film called macular pigment. This film is made up of two pigments: zeaxanthin (zee-uh-zan-thin) and lutein (loo-teen). These macular pigments function like “internal sunglasses” that protect and enhance vision. The beautiful thing about internal sunglasses is that you can build them by eating a lot of the right fruits and vegetables or by supplementing your diet with eye vitamins.
Thicker macular pigment offers protection of the photoreceptors that are responsible for vision.– Remember in science class when you learned about rods and cones? Rods are responsible for peripheral vision, and cones are responsible for central vision. Unfortunately, harmful blue light comprises visible light waves that can damage these photoreceptors in the back of the eye, as opposed to the ultra-violet (UV) range of the light spectrum, which can affect the cornea, or the front of the eye. And even though the eye contains millions of rods and cones, they don’t replenish themselves once they die. So, it is smart to be proactive about healthy vision and protect what you already have.
Dense macular pigment can also improve your vision – from driving a car to reading to playing tennis. Science supports that higher amounts of zeaxanthin and lutein can improve the ability to see fine details, decrease sensitivity to bright light, increase recovery time from glare and enhance contrast sensitivity – the ability to see objects that may not be outlined or stand out clearly from the background. Contrast sensitivity declines with age – this important function helps people clearly recognize steps and other obstacles. Improving this condition alone becomes very important as one-third to one-half of the elder population falls at least once per year, and the risk of falling increases with age.
Baby boomers are aging at a rapid pace, but the way they are aging is unprecedented. Older Americans are working longer, staying more active, engaging in more hobbies and interests and value their independence like no generation before them. So, if you have difficulty adjusting to bright light, reading in dim light or driving a car at night, increasing your macular pigment or internal sunglasses might be just what the doctor ordered – literally.
Eight milligrams of dietary zeaxanthin per day improved vision in 60 veterans with early Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), according to Stuart Richer, a doctor of optometry and leading expert on nutrition and eye health, who recently published the results in the Zeaxanthin and Visual Function (ZVF) Trial, and follow-up clinical paper, “Macular Re-pigmentation Enhances Driving Vision in Elderly Adult Males with Macular Degeneration.” These patients experienced an 8.5 letter improvement on an eye chart, improved ability to discern between shapes, blind spots were eliminated and a significant percentage experienced improved driving vision.
While lutein is readily available in many fruits and vegetables, zeaxanthin is much more difficult to obtain in the average U.S. daily diet. Zeaxanthin is found at a natural two-to-one ratio to lutein in the center of the macula (the fovea) where the cones responsible for central vision are located. To protect and enhance these photoreceptors, macular pigment can be increased through eating vegetables like kale and corn, but currently less than 10 percent of calories on average are derived from fruits and vegetables for Americans while the recommended amount is 50 percent. One would have to consume approximately 20 ears of corn per day to equal the amount of dietary zeaxanthin found in supplements like the EyePromise brand of nutraceuticals.
Next time you experience discomfort from night driving, bright light, reading in dim light or an activity that encompasses fine detail, think about your internal sunglasses. Zeaxanthin and lutein make up your macular pigment, so give your eyes what they need most through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables including spinach, kale, corn and peppers. If you cannot consume enough fruits and vegetables, consider taking an all natural supplement containing high levels of dietary zeaxanthin and lutein.
Independence and aging well is something we all hope for as we grow older, but things like healthy vision are often taken for granted until they are lost or impaired. Baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964, represent a rapidly aging population unprecedented in the history of this country. Unfortunately, this group is susceptible to a host of vision risks.
Most people are familiar with UV or ultra-violet light and many wear sunglasses and sunscreen to protect their eyes and skin. UV falls in the spectrum of invisible light and is potentially damaging to the front of the eye, or the cornea and lens, i.e. cataract. But, what about blue light? How does this “other” light affect the back of the eye and what can you do to protect your vision?
Blue light waves are visible to the eye and on a different or longer range of the light spectrum than UV; blue light waves are all around us and can damage the photoreceptors (rods and cones) in the retina in the back of the eye. The eye’s natural protective filter, macular pigment, acts like internal sunglasses to block harmful blue light before it reaches the photoreceptors. However, if your macular pigment density is thin (a reality for most), your photoreceptors are at a greater risk of being damaged by blue light.
So, what’s the big deal if you lose some of your rods or cones? Well, photoreceptors don’t regenerate and each person has a finite number of them. The other potential problem is that low macular pigment is a key risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which destroys central vision, and is the leading cause of vision loss in people over age 50, according to the American Optometric Association. Science indicates that damage from blue light exposure is a significant contributing factor to AMD, and if you make a fist and hold it between your eyes, you’ll see what vision loss from AMD can look like.
Leaves on a tree are protected from damaging light by carotenoids including zeaxanthin (zee-uh-zan-thin) and lutein, which are seen as leaves change colors. An apple’s skin also provides protection, however when the apple is sliced open, the inside eventually turns brown – a process known as oxidation. Oxidative stress also occurs in our eyes and carotenoids like zeaxanthin and lutein help protect our vision.
Macular pigment is comprised of two dietary carotenoids: zeaxanthin and lutein, which protect the photoreceptors that are responsible for vision. Low macular pigment density is also a key risk factor for AMD, and the macular pigments have also been demonstrated to enhance visual performance in sports, night driving, reduce sensitivity to bright light, and improve vision in low light situations. Our bodies cannot synthesize or make zeaxanthin or lutein, as they must be obtained from our diet. Too many Americans are not consuming enough and their vision can be adversely affected or even endangered.
A diet rich in dark green leafy and brightly colored fruits and vegetables can increase macular pigment density, however most Americans consume less than 25 percent of the recommended quantity of these sources. Zeaxanthin, in particular, is very difficult to obtain in one’s daily diet; you’d have to eat 20 ears of corn to equal the recommended daily amount of 8 milligrams of dietary zeaxanthin. Many eye care professionals recommend eye vitamins to help replenish what your eyes need most.
As blue light-induced damage accumulates over a lifetime, by the time you are in your 40s and 50s, you are at an increased risk for AMD, vision impairment, and decreased visual performance. Visit your eye care professional and ask about having your MPOD (Macular Pigment Optical Density) measured – it’s simple, affordable and takes only a few minutes. If you do not eat the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day, consume a high-quality eye vitamin like EyePromise that is doctor recommended, all natural and has an unconditional money-back guarantee.
Vision becomes even more precious as we age with loss of independence a very real threat to aging Americans. Reduce your risk of the harmful effects of blue light to your vision by increasing the density of your “internal sunglasses.”
While many people take their vision for granted, those with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) certainly do not. AMD Awareness is important because the condition deteriorates central vision, affecting everything from seeing faces clearly to literally having a large “blind spot” in the center of your vision, yet many people are unfamiliar with AMD.
AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in Americans over age 50, according to the American Optometric Association. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 1.8 million have AMD and another 7.3 million people are at risk. As our population ages at an ever-increasing rate, the incidence of AMD is expected to triple by 2025.
Key risk factors for AMD are age, family history, smoking (past or present), low macular pigment, poor diet, light skin and eyes, high body mass index, and Caucasian women are also at slightly higher risk. And while we cannot change our age, we can proactively manage some of the risk factors and take steps to maintain or improve our vision.
Published in the November 2011 issue of the Journal of Optometry, the Zeaxanthin and Visual Function (ZVF) Study was conducted by Dr. Stuart Richer of Chicago. The study included 60 early AMD patients who consumed a daily dose of 8 mgs of dietary Zeaxanthin for one year. The patients’ vision improved in the areas of: high contrast visual acuity (reading, needlepoint, etc.), which improved by 8.5 letters on an eye chart; central scotomas or “blind spots” were resolved; foveal shape discrimination was enhanced (ability to discern shapes at varying distances); and finally, a significant percentage of the group reported an improvement in night driving.
As we age, our eyes degrade – a process that begins when we are children. Harmful blue light from the sun, indoor lighting, and even computers, along with poor diet, smoking, and high body mass index can all affect our central vision – but there is good news, too.
A protective pigment in the back of the eye called macular pigment absorbs harmful blue light that can adversely affect eye health. Think of macular pigment as “internal sunglasses” that protect the photoreceptors in the back of the eye – specifically the cones, which are responsible for central vision, color, sharpness, and sensitivity to bright light, among others.
The two key protective pigments in your internal sunglasses are Zeaxanthin (pronounced zee-uh-zan-thin) and Lutein. In order to keep the internal sunglasses thick and dense, it is important to replenish Zeaxanthin, the predominant protective pigment in the center of the macula where the concentration of cones is the highest.
Unfortunately, Zeaxanthin is scarce in the average daily diet, and most people do not consume enough kale, corn, collard greens, spinach, or peppers to naturally replenish what the eyes need most. For example, one would have to eat approximately 20 ears of corn to get a recommended daily dosage of 8-10 mg of dietary Zeaxanthin.
Healthy macular pigment does more than just protect. It can help adults with sensitivity to bright light, glare while driving at night, seeing well in low light environments, and discernment between contrasting colors.
The early AMD patients in the ZVF Study increased their MPOD levels from an average of .33 to .51 – a direct correlation with their visual improvement. MPOD or Macular Pigment Optical Density is a measurement of the macular pigment in the back of the eye, and is performed by many optometrists throughout the country.
Eye vitamins like the EyePromise brand of nutraceuticals help rebuild macular pigment through unique nutritional formulas that feature the highest levels of all natural, dietary Zeaxanthin, derived from special paprika peppers.
“Education is the first step in fighting AMD,” says Dennis Gierhart, PhD, and co-founder of ZeaVision. “Science demonstrates that low macular pigment is an important AMD risk factor, and it’s encouraging to know that dietary Zeaxanthin is helping people maintain and enhance their vision.”
AMD Awareness is about educating people about AMD risks and being proactive to improve vision. Proper nutrition and supplementation can greatly affect eye health and quality of life. Ask your EyeCare Professional about having your macular pigment measured to protect and enhance your central vision.
Poor vision has many causes and treatments, and as you grow older, you will likely experience some type of vision loss or reduction in visual performance.
For older adults, bright lights, glare while driving at night, and even blindness can dramatically affect quality of life, but the treatment isn’t just glasses or a stronger prescription – it’s also nutrition and supplementation.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness for Americans older than 60, according to the American Optometric Association. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 7.3 million people are at substantial risk for vision loss from AMD. Other estimates indicate that as our population continues to rapidly age, as many as 1 in 3 could be diagnosed with AMD in the next 20 years.
AMD deteriorates central vision, affecting everything from seeing faces clearly to literally having no central vision at all. Key risk factors for AMD are age, family history, smoking (past or present), low macular pigment, light skin and eyes, obesity, and Caucasian women are also at slightly higher risk.
MPOD, or Macular Pigment Optical Density is a brief, non-intrusive exam performed by many optometrists throughout the country, which measures macular pigment in the back of the eye.
Think of macular pigment as “internal sunglasses” for the back of your eye – they absorb harmful blue light that can adversely affect eye health. Internal sunglasses protect the photoreceptors in the back of the eye – specifically the cones, which are responsible for central vision, color, sharpness, and sensitivity to bright light, among others. Two key carotenoids, Zeaxanthin (zee-uh-zan-thin) and Lutein, comprise the internal sunglasses, which can become thin as we age, unable to block or absorb harmful blue light. In order to keep the internal sunglasses thick and dense, it is important to replenish Zeaxanthin, the predominant carotenoid in the area where the concentration of cones is the highest.
Zeaxanthin is very scarce in the average daily diet, and vegetables like kale, corn, collard greens, spinach, and peppers naturally provide nutrients to help maintain macular health, but supplementation is often necessary. For example, one would have to eat approximately 20 ears of corn to get a recommended dosage of 8-10mg of natural dietary Zeaxanthin per day.
Supplements like the EyePromise brand of eye vitamins help rebuild macular pigment through unique nutritional formulas that feature the highest levels of all natural Zeaxanthin, derived from paprika. In addition to protection, Zeaxanthin and Lutein can improve visual performance, reduce glare issues and sensitivity to bright light, as well as improve color intensity and contrast sensitivity.
“Too often we concentrate our diets on weight, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure, but ignore one of the most important organs in our bodies – our eyes,” says Dr. Dennis Giehart, founder of Zeavision. “An abundance of science has found low macular pigment puts people at risk for AMD, and increasing Zeaxanthin in the diet can help improve macular pigment for improved visual performance.”
Vision shouldn’t be something you take for granted as you age. Take care of your eyes with proper nutrition and supplementation if necessary, and ask your EyeCare Professional about having your macular pigment measured to maintain your central vision.
By Glenda Secor, OD, FAAO
We are celebrating April as women’s eye health month. Our culture has given women the blessing and the burden of longevity. Because we typically outlive men, we have the dubious honor of having more vision impairments. It is reported that of the approximately one million legally blind people, 700,000 are women and about 2.3 million American women suffer some form of visual impairment. Eye diseases are also biologically inequitable possibly due to hormonally or immunologically predisposed women. Examples such as dry eye and autoimmune disease incidence are more prevalent in the female patient population. Unfortunately, imperfect nutritional habits, obesity, smoking, and environmental stress also impact our ability to overcome the challenges of gender. Regardless, today’s women are now more able to influence their ultimate physical and eye health by making smart choices.
Knowing your family history has become cornerstone in doctor decision making for many eye diseases. Having a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration is a substantial risk factor in the aggressiveness of many treatment plans. Often the “tipping point” of treatment depends on regular, comprehensive eye examinations and conversations which include preventative options. As women are often the gate keepers for their family’s health care, knowledge of family genetics helps doctors design manage plans that benefit those “at risk” patient populations. The various changes of a women’s life also impacts her visual system.
The cyclic nature of hormonal variations with contraceptive usage, pregnancy and menopause is well documented in women’s health care. Dry eye signs and symptoms also often accompany these hormonal changes. Dry eyes are a multifactorial issue which results from either a decreased production of tears or the ineffectiveness of the tear film to continuously bathe the eye. With aging, inflammatory issues also impact the lacrimal (tear) system and reduce production. In addition, research indicates that because men have androgens or male hormones they tend to have fewer issues with dryness. Changing estrogen amounts during menopause and/or hormone replacement therapy can exacerbate dry eye issues. Although we cannot cure dry eye, we can certainly mitigate the symptoms by adding lubricants (artificial tears), improving our eye lid hygiene and adding omega 3 fatty acid supplements. Omega 3 supplements help reduce the inflammatory issues associated with dry eyes and offer symptomatic relief.
The leading cause of blindness in the United States is the devastating effects of age related macular degeneration (ARMD). Because increasing age is a primary risk factor and women live longer, they are twice as likely to lose their central vision to this destructive disease. Additional risk factors include family history, being over 60 years old, Caucasian descent, obesity, and smoking. Beneficial treatments may include laser surgery and injections, but sadly they don’t reverse the vision loss. Studies have confirmed that taking specific high dose over-the-counter antioxidants can reduce the risk of advanced ARMD.
There are some general tips for women to keep your eyes healthy. Know your family history. Eat a healthy diet which includes antioxidant rich green leafy vegetables, fruits, and omega-3 fatty acids. Quit smoking. Move more. Take supplements such as those that impact your eye health and may reduce the progression of some eye diseases. Have an annual comprehensive eye examination. Finding any issue early greatly impacts the ability to manage and impact the outcome. Take care of yourself first.