Our eyes can take a beating over the summer months from damaging ultraviolet light from the sun.
The sun’s high-energy blue light isn’t easily filtered by our eyes. The greater our exposure to the sun’s rays, the greater our risk of vision damage, resulting in irreversible conditions such as the sight-threatening macular degeneration.
Yet, functional nutritionist and author Pauline Cox MSc says there are additions you can make to your diet to help protect your eye health and vision.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Two nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, can act like internal sunglasses for your eyes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two essential eye health nutrients that are deposited by your body specifically in your eye’s macula to help filter and absorb blue light.
With its powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties, lutein has been shown to protect free radical damage in the eye, helping to preserve the integrity of the cells of the eye. Numerous studies show that lutein can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, both leading causes of age-related vision decline.
Research suggests that lutein is more effective when in combination with another powerful antioxidant, zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid that gives foods such as paprika, saffron and corn their red, yellow and orange pigments. Several studies have shown that, when consumed with lutein, they can lower the incidence of age-related macular degeneration.
Neither nutrient is produced naturally by the body and so it’s vital to get your daily recommendation through food and supplementation.
Studies suggest at least 10mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin per day, yet most people only get 1-2mg a day from diet alone.
Pauline says that’s when daily supplementation can help. Bold Vision, by sustainable supplements brand, Wiley’s Finest contains 20mg of lutein and 4 mg of zeaxanthin in each serving.
Another nutrient of great interest is astaxanthin. This antioxidant is found in high concentration in seafood and salmon. It gives these foods their striking deep rose-pink colour when cooked, for example prawns and shrimp. High-dose astaxanthin supplements are often derived from microalgae or yeast.
Astaxanthin has been shown in research to increase the ocular blood flow to the eyes as well as increasing the antioxidant enzyme profile of the eyes. An important indicator of the level of protection the eyes have from damaging free radicals.
Our bodies all contain free radicals. Free radicals are atoms without an electron. They are more unstable and so seek out other atoms or molecules to bond to. This is called oxidative stress and can lead to a number of degenerative diseases and causes the symptoms of aging.
Antioxidants such as astaxanthin and lutein neutralise free radicals by giving them some of their own electrons, thereby preventing free radicals from damaging the structure of the body’s tissues. That is why antioxidant products and foods are beneficial.
Astaxanthin has also been shown to improve skin moisture and elasticity, which could be as a result of improved blood flow to the skin.
Omega 7s for dry eyes
Dry eyes are a common affliction of our modern world. Intense focus and screen-based work often means we blink less and the eyes can quickly become dry, red, and suffer from a burning sensation.
Improving the moisture and hydration of the eyes is a challenging area of science. Taking regular breaks from periods of high-intensity focus and not spending too long on intense, close-up work can help improve dry eyes. There is also increased interest in a particular fat called omega-7.
This special fatty acid helps to lubricate mucosal membranes such as those that line the mouth, eyelids, vagina and urethra. Research and anecdotal reports of the benefits of omega-7 for alleviating dry eyes and other areas of internal dryness is showing promise for those living with the discomfort of dry eyes.
Pauline is a passionate advocate of high-quality fish oils. She says: “I take the high-quality supplement Bold Vison daily to support my vision. I find the combination of the key nutrients needed to support healthy eyes, like no other blend I have come across before. The capsules are rich in lutein, Omega-7, astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, zinc, bilberry and vitamin E, and so an impressive blend of targeted nutrients for the eyes.”
summer essential supplement designed specifically to protect your eyes and vision, two small softgels of Bold Vision contains:
• 20 mg Lutein
• 4 mg Zeaxanthin
• 500 mg Omega-7 from sustainably sourced Wild Alaskan fish (reduces eye dryness)
• 20 mg Anthocyanins from the European Bilberry (reduces eye fatigue)
• 2 mg Astaxanthin from algae
• 11 mg Zinc
• 20 mg Vitamin E
£39.50 for 60 softgel capsules (1 month’s supply) plus free delivery: wileysfinest.co.uk