Keep Your Eyes Younger Longer

Eye sight transitions as you grow older. Your eyes are one of the first senses that are affected by aging. The time to take care of your eyes is while you are in your 20s and 30s – before you begin experiencing changes to your vision. The same components that are critical to keeping the other parts of your body in a healthy state also apply to your eyes. A healthy lifestyle of diet, exercise, and proper nutritional support can help to keep your eyes younger longer.  Most people begin to experience changes in their eyesight around 40 years of age.

Gradual changes can occur in your vision as you move into your 50s. These challenges include:
Sensitivity to Bright Light or Glare: Vision in bright light or glare conditions usually decreases. Night driving becomes a problem, or that seeing in bright sunlight can be uncomfortable and difficult. It takes up to five times longer to recover from glare than when you were you younger.

Reduced Vision in Low Light Situations: You may experience more difficulties seeing when ambient light is not bright enough. You may have difficulty navigating areas with low light and trouble reading even when you have reading glasses on. Older people need 2-3 times more light to read than when they were younger.

Color Perception: Colors may seem duller, and contrast between colors will seem less noticeable. It may also become difficult to tell where an object ends and where its background begins, making it difficult to see curbs or steps.

Occasional Dry Eye: Occasional dry eye occurs because our tear quality deteriorates with age. We may produce enough tears, but just not enough to keep the eye moist. Signs of occasional dry eye include itching, burning, and excess tearing when going from indoors to outdoors.

Keeping Your Eyes Younger: There’s no substitute for the quality of life that good vision offers.  Adding certain nutrients to your diet every day – either through foods or supplements – can help save your vision.  Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients such as zeaxanthin, lutein, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and zinc to supporting healthy eye structures, including the macula and natural lens.*

Zeaxanthin and lutein are important nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, as well as other foods, such as eggs.

Importance of Zeaxanthin in the Diet: The role played by the powerful antioxidant zeaxanthin in the eye is to sharpen central vision (the clearness with which objects stand out from their surroundings), reduce the effects of glare (blue light), and maintain healthy visual acuity.*

These important functions all take place in the fovea, located in the center of the macula of the human eye. This is where the body requires a steady supply of the macular pigment zeaxanthin.* Individual levels of zeaxanthin in the body are strongly influenced by diet. Zeaxanthin cannot be produced by the human body and must come from dietary intake.

Zeaxanthin and Central Vision: Your eyes work by allowing light to enter through the pupil and project onto a light-sensitive wall of cells at the back of the eye known as the retina. The retina consists of millions of photoreceptor cells known as rods and cones. The macula is located in the center of the retina and is responsible for discerning color and fine detail. This area is predominantly made up of cones. The cones in the fovea are smaller and more densely packed, and they are not obscured by a layer of nerve cells or blood vessels. This accounts for the sharp vision associated with them. This is where zeaxanthin is deposited by the body in the highest concentrations. Increasing zeaxanthin intake helps maintain visual performance over the long term.

*Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): An antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Scientific evidence suggests vitamin C when taken alone, or with other nutrients, is important to maintain healthy eyes.

*Vitamin E: In its most biologically active form is a powerful antioxidant found in nuts, fortified cereals, and sweet potatoes. It is thought to protect cells of the eyes from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals which break down healthy tissue.

*Essential Fatty Acids: A necessary part of the human diet. They help maintain the integrity of the nervous system, fuel cells, and boost the immune system.* Two omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be important for proper visual development and retinal function.

*Zinc: An essential trace mineral or ‘helper molecule.’ It plays a vital role in bringing Vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes.* Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, mostly in the retina and choroid, the vascular tissue layer lying under the retina.

Visiting an eye care professional is critical to distinguish between normal eye concerns that emerge with age. Other health issues can affect the strength of your vision as well.  When you visit your doctor, list all current health issues and family history. The more your eye care professional knows, the more they can help protect your eye sight for years to come.