Macular degeneration can be a debilitating disease, and it is difficult to help patients who have moderate to advanced cases. That is why protecting your eyes is crucial to lower your risk of sight loss. If you are at risk for or actually have dry macular degeneration, you should take steps to lower your risk.
Firstly, the foods you eat make a big difference. Dark leafy greens in a large salad every day are super important. If you are committed to eating consistently healthy, Dr. Keats recommends you talk with your doctor to see if your medications could be altered so you enjoy significant amounts of Kale and other dark greens on a daily basis with your doctor’s approval.
Of course, patients who smoke and live a generally unhealthy lifestyle in their other food choices can’t expect to see dramatic benefits without stopping the choices that lead to oxidative retinal damage. In fact, poor choices can lead to sight loss much faster, not to mention the risk of cancer, heart attacks, and strokes.
Secondly, patients should protect their eyes from UV A, UV B and high energy Blue Light that is emitted not only by sunlight, but also fluorescent bulbs, flat screen TV’s, computer screens and hand held devices. Patients at risk for macular degeneration would be wise to block all three types of rays. Until recently only UVA and B were in traditional anti-reflective coatings. This protected the lens, and cornea and surrounding areas at the front of the eye. But it was leaving the macula exposed to tremendous amounts of harmful blue light.
Now, there are coatings like Crizal’s Prevencia and Hoya’s Recharg anti-reflective coating that give patients this valuable protection. With the inundation of these additional indoor light sources, blue blocking is ever more important for long term retinal eye health. The most effective blue blocking lens is the Blu-Tech lens, with embeds melanin pigment within the lens to offer the best protection. This lens has a slight amber tint in its indoor lens and a dark amber lens for outdoors. Some patients do not like the indoor tint color, and even though it offers the best protection, they elect to get the one of the other two.
Dr. Keats suggests these patients have their primary glasses in the Prevencia or Recharg, and their sunglasses and computer glasses in Blu-Tech. There will be other lenses that block blue light coming out in the future. On a side note, blocking blue light while on the computer at night has been shown in research to help patients fall into a deep sleep faster than they would without the lens. This can help overall health as many medical conditions including diabetes, weight problems, and cancer are worsened by poor sleep patterns.
Finally, though we may try to eat healthy, most people are not eating enough nutrient dense foods to create therapeutic doses of the essential carotenoids that are necessary to build protective pigments in the macula. Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-zeaxanthin in the right amounts will serve to protect the macula from oxidative stress. However, macular patients usually have less of these pigments than healthier individuals. Therefore, supplementing with all three nutrients is preferred rather than just taking Lutein or Zeaxanthin alone.
The only vitamin on the market that has all three carotenoids is MacuHealth. These nutrients can be ordered at MacuHealth.com, or stop in Dr. Keats’ office to purchase some. There are other nutrients found in other eye vitamins that may be helpful too, like MaxiVision Ocular Formula, but MacuHealth is the one Dr. Keats recommends the most since it contains the very important meso-zeazanthin. Dr. Keats recommends most of his macular patients take at least 10 mg of Lutein, 4mg of Zeaxanthin, and 10 mg of Meso-zeathanthin. By the way, Dr. Keats likes patients to obtain vitamin A through natural foods rather than supplementation due to its risk of lung cancer in certain patients. Zinc can also make macular degeneration worse if a patient has certain genetic disorders like complement factor H. Increasing macular pigment has the potential to help also see better because it can help increase resolution as the pigments filter out blue light, thus increasing contrast sensitivity.
In summary, eat healthy, block UV and blue light, and supplement with Lutein, Zeazanthin, and Meso-zeazanthin to lower risk of rapid progression toward severe dry or wet degeneration. Regular eye exams every 6-12 months can allow Dr. Keats to see if your macular degeneration is progressing or stable.
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