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Is Modern Life Destroying Your Eyes?

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From exposure to hazardous UV light from the sun and environmental , to high intake of processed foods and even stress, our eyesight seems to be in danger right now more so than any other time in human history.

Here are the four main ways our eyesight is endangered by modern life:

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1. Technological High-Energy Blue Light

There has always been blue light in sunlight. Blue light helps us wake up and stay alert. However, it’s not the sunlight kind that is the biggest danger right now. It’s technological blue light from energy efficient light bulbs, fluorescent lights, computer screens, smart phone screens and TV screens, as our eyes are seemingly assaulted by high-energy blue light night and day.

The type of blue light emitted from technology penetrates deeper into the eye than sunlight and triggers an oxidative and inflammatory vicious cycle that damages fragile eye cells.

This type of blue light is especially dangerous for the center of the eye, the retina and the macula. This is the part of the eye that is responsible for most of our vision ability. Damage to these parts of the eye can eventually result in severe vision problems.[1] [2] [3]

Adults now spend on average 9.5 hours a day in front of screens that are emitting a constant flow of high-energy blue light, plus many are constantly exposed to this type of light from energy efficient light bulbs as well.[4]

In addition to emitting blue light, these light bulbs emit radiation that is damaging to eye cells. A study in 2011 at The Australian National University found that all single envelope bulbs, which are most of the bulbs that are used (the kind that look like an ice cream swirl) emit radiation outside the safe zone and may increase vision damage by harming the photoreceptors in the retina.[5]

An animal study revealed that damage from high energy blue light can occur within 3 hours of exposure with significant damage to eye tissue after 3 weeks.[6]

Short-term effects of high-energy blue light manifest as “eye fatigue,” and are characterized by symptoms including blurry vision, dry eyes and headaches. However, many people will not have any symptoms, yet the damage to macula and retinal cells is on-going and may show up later in life as vision loss.

2. Many Americans Don’t Eat Their Greens

Nature devised a protective device to protect eyes from blue light: a yellow pigment shield across the macula, the area of the retina most sensitive to light. This is called the macular pigment or MP.

The yellow pigment shield that protects the macula is made from certain foods that we eat, especially greens like kale and spinach and eggs with dark yellow yolks. These foods are high in specific nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin that make the pigment in the eye. Another nutrient in the pigment, meso-xanthin is made from lutein, but may be supplemented as well.

A Harvard study in 1994 was the first to make a connection between high levels of lutein from food, like spinach and kale, and a 43% reduced risk of macular problems.[7] However you have to eat a lot of greens — one serving of cooked greens just about every day. The best option is kale, which can be cooked many different ways or eaten raw.

And do Americans eat a lot of greens? Sadly, we do not. Period.

The average intake of combined lutein and zeaxanthin from food is about 2 mg a day. Studies indicate that the minimum intake to protect against eye damage and vision problems is up to 6-12 times that much.[8]

Also, most supermarket eggs do not have the dark yellow yolks high in these nutrients — and many people cut back eating eggs due to the false scare.

So, at a time when we need a nice thick yellow shield over our maculas to protect us from high-energy blue light, we don’t have one.

3. Spikes of

Due to our modern delight in foods that contain high carbs and sugar, it’s not uncommon to have blood sugar spikes after drinking sodas or eating high-sugar foods and high-carb meals. These spikes can damage the tiny blood vessels in the eyes, weakening them until they simply won’t work anymore and you end up with vision problems.[9] [10]

4. Getting Older

The macular pigment thins as you get older. Macular pigment levels drop 75% from age 20 to 60.[11]

Other eye structures also weaken. The tiny blood vessels in the eye get weaker and collapse. The lens of the eye can become cloudy due to years of oxidative stress. There’s more build up of oxidative and damage to eye cells. You lose flexibility in focusing. Age is not easy on the eyes.

How can you tell if your eye health is in jeopardy? Be on the lookout for these common warning signs: squinting, averting eyes against headlights, poor night vision, trouble driving in bad weather, headaches, blurred vision looking at distances after hours at the computer (or blurry vision in general), cloudy vision, trouble seeing central vision, and tired or burning eyes.

Sources:

[1] Taylor et.al Arch Opthalmol 1992; 110:99-104.

[2] Roberts. J Photobiol B. 2001; 64: 136-143.

[3] Arnault et al. Plos One 2013; 8: 71398.

[4] White Paper: Protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers against high-energy blue light exposure: a need across all age groups. OmniActive Technologies. www.omniactive.com

[5] Walls H, et al. Eye Disease Resulting From Increased Use of Fluorescent Lighting as a Climate Change Mitigation Strategy. American Journal of Public Health: December 2011, Vol. 101, No. 12, pp. 2222-2225.

doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300246

[6] Bush EM, Gorgels TGMF, van Norren D. Vision Res 1999;39:1233-1247

[7] Seddon JM, et al. Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A,C, and E and advanced age-related macular degeneration. Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group. JAMA. 1994 Nov 9; 272(18):1413-20.

[8] http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/nutrition/lutein-and-zeaxanthin?sso=

[9] Singleton JR, et al. Increased prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance in patients with painful sensory neuropathy.. Care.2001. 24(8):1448-1453.

[10] Monnier L, et al. Activation of oxidative stress by acute glucose fluctuations compared with sustained chronic hyperglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. JAMA. 2006;295(14):1681-1687. doi:10.1001/jama.295.14.1681.

[11] Bernstein PS, et al. Resonance Raman measurement of macular carotenoids in normal subjects and in age-related macular degeneration patients. Ophthalmology. 2002 Oct. 109(10):1780-87.

 

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