Tag Archive macular degeneration

7 Healthy Foods Beyond Carrots for Healthy Eyes

7 Healthy Foods Beyond Carrots for Healthy Eyes

originally posted at huffingtonpost.com by Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler

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You have likely heard of degenerative diseases such as cataracts, keratoconus and macular degeneration. For preventative measures, I am sure you know salmon is good for your heart and oatmeal for your cholesterol, but did you know that certain foods (other than carrots) can also improve your eye health? According to a studyby the National Eye Institute, foods high in antioxidants such as omega-3 fatty acids, glutathione, zinc and vitamins C and E may reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Here are 7 healthy foods that healthy eyes crave:

  1. Seafood: Fish contains some of the highest levels of quality omega-3 essential fatty acids, in addition to being very tasty! Including omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can support proper visual development and retinal function over time. If you don’t like the taste of fish, raw almonds are a great alternative to incorporate omega-3s into your diet.
  2. Orange and Grapefruit Juice: In addition to fighting immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems and skin wrinkling, Vitamin C has been shown to help lower the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. One cup of orange juice packs 124 milligrams of vitamin C and grapefruit juice has 94 milligrams.
  3. Eggs: If there is one universal nutritional factor for eye health, it’s glutathione — a natural antioxidant. Glutathione has been shown to help prevent cataracts, glaucoma, retinal disease and diabetic blindness. Eggs are a great natural source, but if you can’t stomach them, look to get your Glutathione from vitamins.
  4. Oysters: Oysters, poultry, milk, shellfish, baked beans and whole grains are great sources of zinc. Lack of zinc can lead to cataracts or night vision, a condition associated with blurred vision, halos and night blindness.
  5. Kale: This leafy vegetable is one of the healthiest foods for your body, including your eyes. Kale has high levels of Vitamin E, which can protect your eyes from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules which break down healthy tissue in the body. Kale is easy to add to smoothies for a nutritional boost or can be used as a side salad with any meal! My kids love “kale chips,” which my wife and I make by lightly baking them in the oven.
  6. Pork: An often overlooked yet equally important nutrient for your eye health is zinc. Pork meat has high levels of zinc, which plays a key role in bringing Vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin — a protective pigment in the eyes. If you do not eat pork or are a vegetarian, chicken and cashews are excellent alternatives. Now you have a good excuse to indulge in BBQ ribs!
  7. Camu camu: This Brazilian superfruit is a newcomer to the American market, and it packs the highest vitamin C content of any fruit on the planet. Vitamin C plays a key role in lowering your risk for developing cataracts and can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration while protecting against visual acuity loss.

originally posted at huffingtonpost.com by Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler

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Mediterranean diet cuts blindness risk by 26%, claims new study

Mediterranean diet cuts blindness risk by 26%, claims new study

Originally posted at dnaindia.com

Scientists claims their findings show diet is of the utmost importance in the fight against age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Mediterranean diet cuts blindness risk by 26%, claims new study

You may want to start taking Mediterranean diet as fish, vegetables, fruit, olive oil and nuts are powerful enough to help you with the sight loss.

Scientists who made the discovery say their findings show diet is of the utmost importance in the fight against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the Daily Express reported. Adults who regularly ate Mediterranean-type foods were 26% less likely to lose their sight and among those carrying a gene which puts them at higher risk of AMD, the danger was cut by a third.

Cathy Yelf, chief executive of British charity the Macular Society, said that AMD is now the biggest cause of sight loss in the industrialised world. US experts from Harvard Medical School and Tufts University in Boston quizzed 2,500 volunteer men and women on their eating habits. Each was then tracked for 13 years.

Regular consumption of oily fish and vegetables seemed to give most of the protection. One antioxidant thought to protect eyes is lutein, found in abundance in foods such as kale. A Mediterranean diet is thought to protect the eyes by reducing the risk of inflammation. The Royal National Institute for the Blind said: “Eating a mixed healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is important for general and eye health, as is wearing quality sunglasses.” It also urged people not to smoke.

The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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Mission to help these people see

Originally posted by Canada.com / © Copyright (c) The Daily Telegraph

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Macular degeneration is one of those conditions that most people approaching late middle-age dread. For many of the 90,000 diagnosed annually, blindness is inevitable. But one man is determined to change this: Ahmed Nagiati El-Amir, who at 37 is already considered one of Europe’s leading eye surgeons.

Mr El-Amir discovered his vocation while still a student at Charing Cross Hospital medical school.

“We did very little ophthalmology but the little we did do interested me, so I decided to educate myself,” he says.

He started attending the weekly 7am ward rounds of Professor Alan Bird, a renowned surgeon at the Institute of Ophthalmology at Moorfields Hospital, in London. The professor told him to go away; ward rounds were for trainee eye surgeons, not students. But he persisted, and the irritated prof started firing questions at him. El-Amir’s extracurricular studying paid off and he held his own. Prof Bird took him under his wing and guided him from them on.

After training at Moorfields, Mr El-Amir was a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at 32. He now works across several NHS hospitals in Berkshire and his private practice in Harley Street.

It was Prof Bird who set him on his current course. “I remember him saying to me that with the right innovation, in 10 or 20 years, eye surgeons would be treating patients for whom once we could do nothing. I felt challenged by this,” he recalls. And so he focused on macular degeneration.

The macula is a part of the retina – the back of the eye – responsible for central vision. The degeneration typically represents a tiny spot on the back of the eye, not much larger than a full stop. Yet it relates to a field of vision equivalent to two or three laptop screens. As this is in the centre of vision, it is particularly disabling: while retaining peripheral vision, sufferers become unable to see faces or read.

Macular degeneration usually affects people over 60 and is the leading cause of blindness in the UK. It is broadly divided into two categories: “wet” and “dry”. While both result in the same central blind spot, they are different diseases. The wet type, which makes up about 10 per cent of cases, is the result of blood vessels under the macula haemorrhaging and cutting off the blood supply. There are several different treatments which, when injected directly into the eye, can slow the progression. The dry type, which makes up the remaining 90 per cent (around 600,000 people in Britain), is caused by cells responsible for vision withering away. No one knows why this happens, though it’s likely genetics play a part. Its progress is slower than the wet form, but there are few treatments and blindness usually follows.

“It was for these people – those for whom we can do nothing at the moment – that I went into ophthalmology. It is my duty to find a way to help these people see,” says Mr El-Amir.

He has developed a technique using a series of lenses that are inserted into the eye. They act as a telescope, enlarging the image on to the area of the retina that is peripheral to the macula. The brain then does something surprising: it starts to adapt, using the healthy part of the retina to view central images. In effect, the lens system manages to trick the brain into “moving” the macula to another part of the eye not affected by the degeneration.

The technique has been used successfully before, however it was deemed unsuitable for those who had cataracts. Since the vast majority of macular degeneration sufferers – well over 80 per cent – fall into this category, this has been a major problem. Mr El-Amir’s approach enables him to operate on those with a history of cataracts, meaning it could help save the sight of around 500,000 people. His technique involves multiple scans of the eye to understand its unique anatomy, and uses different ways to support the lens once in place.

Mr El-Amir is keen to make the surgery available on the NHS but says he will need personally to train surgeons initially because of the expertise required. The main stumbling block, however, is that the lenses are hand-made and therefore expensive. Still, a cost-benefit analysis for the NHS shows it’s cheaper than providing care for macular degeneration sufferers, especially when accounting for the risk of falls and other injuries to which the visually challenged are prone. There is, moreover, 10 years of data from the US suggesting these lenses do work.

To operate on one eye costs about pounds 15,000, so Mr El-Amir is now working to reduce this. The lens manufacturers say if demand increases, they could cut the price by a third, but NHS managers appear wary of committing themselves. Moorfields Eye Hospital, however, has expressed an interest in helping Mr El-Amir do trials to help convince the health service to offer the treatment nationwide, so he remains optimistic it could yet save the sight of many thousands currently condemned to blindness. “You have to remain positive,” he says. “You have to have hope.”

For more information, visit: macularsociety.org and harleystreeteye.com

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What role does your brain play in “seeing” the world?

Originally posted at Serendip Studio.

Seeing more than your eye does

Most people (even many who work on the brain) assume that what you see is pretty much what your eye sees and reports to your brain. In fact, your brain adds very substantially to the report it gets from your eye, so that a lot of what you see is actually “made up” by the brain.


Some special features of the anatomy of the eyeball make it possible to demonstrate this to yourself. The front of the eye acts like a camera lens, differently directing light rays from each point in space so as to create on the back of the eye a picture of the world. The picture falls on a sheet of photoreceptors (red in the diagram), specialized brain cells (neurons) which are excited by light.

The sheet of photoreceptors is much like a sheet of film at the back of a camera. But it has a hole in it. At one location, called the optic nerve head, processes of neurons collect together and pass as a bundle through the photoreceptor sheet to form the optic nerve (the thick black line extending up and to the left in the diagram), which carries information from the eye to the rest of the brain. At this location, there are no photoreceptors, and hence the brain gets no information from the eye about this particular part of the picture of the world. Because of this, you should have a “blind spot” (actually two, one for each eye), a place pretty much in the middle of what you can see where you can’t see.


Look around. Do you see a blind spot anywhere? Maybe the blind spot for one eye is at a different place than the blind spot for the other (this is actually true), so you don’t notice it because each eye sees what the other doesn’t. Close one eye and look around again. Now do you see a blind spot? Hmm. Maybe its just a little TINY blind spot, so small that you (and your brain) just ignore it. Nope, its actually a pretty BIG blind spot, as you’ll see if you look at the diagram below and follow the instructions.

Close your left eye and stare at the cross mark in the diagram with your right eye. Off to the right you should be able to see the spot. Don’t LOOK at it; just notice that it is there off to the right (if its not, move farther away from the computer screen; you should be able to see the dot if you’re a couple of feet away). Now slowly move toward the computer screen. Keep looking at the cross mark while you move. At a particular distance (probably a foot or so), the spot will disappear (it will reappear again if you move even closer). The spot disappears because it falls on the optic nerve head, the hole in the photoreceptor sheet.

So, as you can see, you have a pretty big blind spot, at least as big as the spot in the diagram. What’s particularly interesting though is that you don’t SEE it. When the spot disappears you still don’t SEE a hole. What you see instead is a continuous white field (remember not to LOOK at it; if you do you’ll see the spot instead). What you see is something the brain is making up, since the eye isn’t actually telling the brain anything at all about that particular part of the picture.


Alright, you say, that’s kind of neat, but maybe the brain isn’t “making it up.” It just knows to put white where the blind spot is. Let’s try another situation and see what happens.

Table of Contents:

Blindspot Home Page
More Blind Spots
Switching Colors
Lines
Final Blindspot and Further Reading
Map Your Own Blindspot

Resources Elsewhere:

MD Support, a website serving the Macular Degeneration Community, adapted this exhibit for diagramming vision: http://www.mdsupport.org/map/map.html.

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Cone Rod Dystrohpy: What it is, and can you help?

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Information on diet, nutrition & self-help options

Rod cone dystrophy is expressed as a number of inherited eye problems, due to the common cause of malfunctioning of the cone and rod photoreceptors. These photoreceptors change light into electric nerve messages that transfer to our brain via our optic nerve. Cones are the photoreceptor cells which allow us to see fine details and color and comprise our central vision. Rods are for low light vision and permit night and peripheral vision. The malfunctioning photoreceptor cells be problematic starting in childhood, or may lose their functionality with time.

Self Help

Since we consider most eye conditions to be a reflection of the health of the whole body, lifestyle choices and diet can play a major factor in getting and maintaining good vision. Below are some recommendations:

Supplementation with research-proven nutrients and eyedrops that have been found to be helpful to protect vision.
See our recommendations for healthy eyes for details.
Eye exercises can help to bring energy and blood to the eyes, thereby helping to drain away toxins or congestion to the eyes. These are free general eye exercises and acupressure points for overall eye health.
It is possible to slow down vision loss and possibly maintain healthy vision:

Energy moving modalities such as acupuncture and microcurrent stimulation may be helpful.
See all retinal support vitamins & supplements
Rod and cone photoreceptors are good at seeing different things. Here are some examples:

Rods are good at ‘seeing’:

things that move but only in black and white
seeing in the dark
seeing things on the sides of us (peripheral vision)
Cones are good at ‘seeing’:

things that are still
fine details of thing in daylight
objects in color
things in fine detail including reading, looking at photographs and recognizing faces
Symptoms

gradual loss of night vision
gradual loss of peripheral vision
sensitivity to bright light
vision is best at dusk
errors in color vision in both red-green and blue-yellow ranges
Young children with Rod-Cone Dystrophy may develop:

Fast ‘to and fro’ movements of the eyes. This is referred to Nystagmus.
‘Roving’ eye movements where the eyes appear to slowly wander around not fixing and staying still on any objects.
‘Eye Poking’ where the child touches their eyes with their fingers.
Parents will often notice these signs by the way the child acts.

Causes

There are many different causes of Rod-Cone Dystrophies. Often one does not know why a child has a Rod-Cone Dystrophy. When no cause can be identified this is called Idiopathic.

Most Rod-Cone Dystrophies are genetically based and result from “misprints” in a child’s genes, and are typically carried forward from the parents’ genes although sometimes by chance a new mistake occurs in the child’s genes and the parents’ genes are normal.

Conventional Treatment

There is no good conventional way to stop the sight loss in Rod-Cone Dystrophy.

Related Conditions

Other eye conditions where the rod and cone photoreceptor cells do not work properly include: Leber’s Amaurosis, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Usher’s Syndrome and Batten’s Disease.

Synonyms: Retinal Cone Degeneration, Retinal Cone-Rod Dystrophy, Cone Rod Dystrophy, Combined Cone-Rod Degeneration, Cone Rod Degeneration, Progressive Cone Rod Dystrophy, Retinal Cone Dystrophy, Retinal Cone Rod Dystrophy

Research

Though there are no specific studies on nutrients and this particular condition, there is extensive research on nutrients such as lutein, zeaxanthin and bilberry among others that have been shown to be essential for the health of the rod-cone structures. Based on these studies, Dr. Grossman has selected specific nutrients and products to help support this part of the eye and overall eye health. Some research on macular degenerationor retinitis pigmentosa may be applicable.
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Cheers

Will

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