Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may not be the world’s leading cause of blindness. (That honor goes to cataracts.)
But it’s a major one, nevertheless. So it’s important to know the signs. Especially if you’re over 60, when most cases of AMD strike.
It’s even more important to know about the simple nutritional interventions that can make a huge difference in this disease’s progression.
And knowing about them might just save your eyesight in the long run.
Telltale signs that your eyes are dying
As the name suggests, macular degeneration destroys your macula. This is the most sensitive part of your retina, located in the back part of your eye. It’s filled with the light-sensing cells responsible for sharp, central vision.
There are two main types of macular degeneration—dry AMD and wet AMD.
The former is by far the most common, accounting for roughly 90 percent of all cases. It’s a slow-moving disease that causes the critical sensory cells in your macula to break down and die.
Wet AMD, on the other hand, is marked by the growth of abnormal blood vessels beneath your macula. This results in a leakage of blood and fluid. Both of which damage the macula a lot more quickly than dry AMD.
So it’s fortunate that wet AMD is also the more rare form by a wide margin.
But your risk of either form of the disease is higher if you’re over 60, female, obese, or have heart disease.
In both forms of macular degeneration, your peripheral vision remains intact. Objects right in front of you, however, will appear hazy and dull—often obscured by a single blurred or blind spot.
That’s typically in the later stages, of course. Most cases of early AMD can only be detected through a comprehensive eye exam. You may notice subtle changes, like straight lines appearing crooked. Or you may not experience any symptoms at all.
Either way, now is the best time to start taking action.
Which brings me back to the good news.
Like I said, you can stop AMD—or at least, slow it down—with a few carefully selected nutrients.
This, of course, includes supplements. And one of the most common recommendations, even among mainstream doctors, is what’s known as the AREDS formulation.
For best results, skip straight to the vein
The AREDS formulation is named for the
National Eye Institute’s Age Related Eye Disease Study. This was a 10-year clinical trial that evaluated the effectiveness of five different nutrients—vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper.
Results showed that high daily doses of these nutrients can slam the brakes on AMD progression.
One of the main products I use for vision preservation, EYE-BRITE,™ is based on the AREDS formulation. I recommend two tabs daily.
I also administer a special IV cocktail to my patients with macular degeneration. Getting nutrients directly into your vein allows your body to tolerate doses that you could never take by mouth. It also facilitates better absorption.
My IV protocol features nutrients from the AREDS formulation (including vitamin C, zinc, and copper). But it delivers large doses of glutathione, a range of B-vitamins, and several other minerals, as well. (Namely magnesium, manganese, chromium, and selenium.)
The addition of glutathione is especially important to my IV protocol, since it isn’t well absorbed through your gut. And that’s a problem, because this antioxidant is by far one of the most powerful forms of natural protection your body has.
Low levels of glutathione can speed up oxidative damage to the cells of your macula and lead to imbalances in ocular fluid pressure. Both of these phenomena are risk factors for AMD.
Meanwhile, research shows that B-vitamins prevent AMD-related vision loss, too. This is most likely due to their effect on homocysteine.
I’ve mentioned homocysteine before—in particular, its link to heart disease. But the tiny blood vessels in your eyes are just as susceptible to this substance’s negative effects.
A steady stream of B vitamins can help to minimize this damage, which is why I’ve also included them in my IV protocol.
This approach isn’t exclusive to my clinic. So it should be relatively easy to find a holistic practitioner who offers a similar treatment for macular degeneration.
The American College for Advancement in
Medicine (www.acam.org) can help you to locate an experienced doctor in your area.
Eat your way to “younger” vision
I’m always telling you that the right diet can go a long way in preventing disease. And my prescription for AMD is no different.
As usual, sparing your vision requires eating less sugar. But it also means eating more of two key foods in particular.
The first is fish. A study of participants in the famous Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study showed that eating more than four servings of fish per week lowers AMD risk by 35 percent.1
And this was no small study, either. Researchers looked at data from over 72,000 men and women aged 50 and older, spanning over a decade.
The results appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2001.2
These benefits are obviously related to the omega-3 content of fatty fish—and to its abundance of DHA in particular.
So if you’re not a fan of seafood, be sure to at least take a high-quality fish oil every day. (I generally recommend 3,000 mg of DHA/EPA.)
While you’re at it, eat more salad. Leafy green vegetables are especially rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. And research shows that getting more of these carotenoids in your diet could cut your risk of AMD by 43 percent.3
That’s a pretty serious perk for a side of spinach, kale, or collard greens. So feel free to serve with a heavy hand.
1. “Prospective study of dietary fat and the risk of age-related macular degeneration.” Am J Clin Nutr. February 2001 vol. 73 no. 2 209-218.
2. “The Impact of Fish and Shellfish Consumption on Age-Related Macular Degeneration.” Ophthalmology. 2010 Dec;117(12):2395-401.
3. “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.