Nutrition for Vision

While most people don't realize it, what you eat can affect how you see! Our eyes are as much a part of our bodies as any other organ, so they are influenced by our nutrition. New research has confirmed that nutrition can make a difference in our eye health. Most affected are conditions of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Dry Eye Syndrome, Cataracts and Glaucoma. Dr. Anshel now lectures on these conditions and how to resolve them with proper nutrition.

Read More on Dr. Anshel's nutrition website >>

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A cataract (CAT-ah-rackt) is a clouding of the lens within the eye. This clouding can be partial or complete, so not all cataracts interfere with vision to a severe extent. However, the type of cataract that occurs with advancing age is generally progressive. Therefore, a cataract that today is small and not causing much of a problem will probably at some point, perhaps in a few years, become a large cataract that obscures vision. So a cataract is not a “film” over the eye, as is commonly thought.

Loss of vision is the second greatest fear, next to death, among the elderly. Age related cataracts are one of the major causes of loss of vision worldwide. Approximately 20 million people in the United States have their vision obstructed by cataracts and 500,000 new cases are diagnosed annually.

The interference to vision that cataracts cause runs the gamut from slight to severe. However, a cataract that causes a slight problem today may develop into a disabling condition. This is because the type of cataract that occurs with advancing age is generally progressive. Luckily, not all cataracts reach the point where they obscure vision.

When your cataract does interfere significantly with your vision and your lifestyle, your doctor will most likely recommend surgery. Consider that cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure done in the United States today, with about 1.5 million operations performed annually.

Some diseases and injuries, as well as a class of anti-inflammatory medications called steroids, can also cause cataracts at any point in life. In addition, you can develop a cataract after being exposed to radiation (from having a large number of X-rays taken, for example), from being hit in the head by a high-voltage current (due to lightning or electrocution), or from constant exposure to infrared light. The cataract caused by infrared light is called a glass blower’s cataract because these artisans used to work with infrared light without eye protection.

Recent research suggests that many years of extreme exposure to UV light, which is part of sunlight but beyond the human visible spectrum, can also play a part in the development of cataracts. This is because the lens is a UV filter and absorbs most of the UV light entering the eye to prevent it from reaching the retina. Among the many environmental, lifestyle, and genetic risk factors associated with cataracts, exposure to UV radiation from sunlight and oxidative stress appear to be the most relevant in the development of this disease.

Another study suggests that cigarette smoking is linked to the formation of cataracts. The eye damage seems to be from certain chemicals that are transported internally to the lens while smoking. Secondhand smoke (smoke in the environment) does not have this effect. In Spain, a 1997 study found that women who took estrogen for more than four years had a reduced number of opacities in the lenses of their eyes. A 1999 study at Indiana University confirmed these results so hopefully future research will explore the link between hormones and cataract formation.

So, are cataracts an inevitable consequence of advancing age, or are they the result of some action that can be changed? Researchers in the field of aging are asking this question about many conditions previously thought to be an unavoidable price of living a long life. The answer in the case of cataracts, as for most conditions, is that they probably are a combination of heredity, the aging process and environment. Years of exposure to UV light, radiation, and various as-yet-unidentified environmental insults such as smoking eventually catch up with us as we age. At the same time, the eye’s lens fibers begin to break down and are more vulnerable to stresses from the outside world.

You may be able to prevent or postpone the development of a cataract by protecting your eyes from UV light with a good pair of sunglasses, eating a nutritious and balanced diet, limiting your exposure to infrared light and radiation from X-rays and other sources, and not smoking.

Among the many environmental, lifestyle, and genetic risk factors associated with cataracts, exposure to UV radiation from sunlight and oxidative stress appear to be the most relevant in the development of this disease. Recent science also suggests a relationship between dietary carbohydrate intake and glycemic index in the development of both cortical and nuclear lens opacities.  

A study published in 2004 in Ophthalmic Research investigated the relationship between vitamin E and ultraviolet B radiation (UVB)-induced cataract.  The conclusion was that vitamin E protects the lens against UVB-induced cataract. Vitamin E protects as an antioxidant and/or indirectly through increasing levels of glutathione.

It is also suggested in a number of peer-reviewed journals that concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin in the lens contribute to its protection against UVB radiation.  Support for this possibility is provided by a study that suggested that zeaxanthin supplementation protected quail photoreceptor cells against light-induced death and another study strongly suggested that lutein supplementation diminished acute inflammatory responses, hyperproliferation, and immunosuppression after exposure of mouse skin to UVB.

Data from a study published in the Journal of Nutrition on xanthophylls and vitamin E now strongly suggests that xanthophyll carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, are far more potent than vitamin E for protecting the human lens epithelial cells against UVB insult.

A study published in the June 2006 Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery found that grape seed proanthocyanidin extract effectively suppressed cataract formation in experimental cataracts.

An excellent product that can support the lens in maintaining it's clarity is called Oculair by Biosyntrx. To find out more information about this product or to order, please click here.


   Chronic Eye Diseases

Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Dry Eye Syndrome



The Immune System


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