I have seen patients slowly see their perception of colours diminish, followed by shapes, and gradual loss of their sense of vision completely. The results are nothing short of devastating. I have seen patients with vision loss lose their independence – starting with driving privileges to early retirement for some. This is especially devastating given that our eyes not only present us with information, but also allow us to communicate with others. Indeed, we have an uncanny ability to decipher emotions from someone’s face with a simple gaze. This leads to further isolation for those affected, a paucity of information available, a loss of the ability to express oneself, and often times an eventual sense of total isolation. Sadly, far too many of us end up with some form of vision loss and eventual blindness.
Several culprits have led to this rapid onset of vision problems. The most obvious of course is our aging population. Indeed, the life expectancy in Canada has increased from roughly sixty to eighty years of age in the last century. During the same period, the percentage of senior Canadians has grown from five to fifteen percent of the population. Given that vision problems are mainly present in older adults; this has greatly increased our risk of eventually developing a vision problem. The latest population statistics show that more than eighty percent of Canadians age sixty-five or older end up with vision issues, most commonly macular degeneration, diabetic complications, glaucoma, and cataracts.
The good news is that, as with most degenerative health conditions, prevention leads to long term paybacks. Simple steps such as reducing oxidative stress can help avoid later sorrows. Eating a nutritious diet is key to maintaining healthy eyes, as are refraining from smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and monitoring cholesterol and blood pressure.
Your eyes also require essential nutrients in order to function properly and remain healthy. Nutrients such as beta-carotene, zinc, vitamin C, lutein, lipoic acid, lutein, and carotenoids are needed for healthy eyesight. Simple interventions lend huge benefits with evidence showing that lutein alone can reduce the risks of cataracts,[i] macular degeneration[ii] and problems related to the macula.[iii]
Products combining important nutrients for eye health are readily available. Vision Essentials is an excellent example of a product that combines the ingredients important for your eyes.
Remember, as with most things related to your health, when it comes to vision, prevention is far better than cure…
Cheers to your good health,
Ludo Brunel, ND
[i]Olmedilla, B., Granado, F., Blanco, I., and Vaquero, M. Lutein, but not alpha-tocopherol, supplementation improves visual function in patients with age-related cataracts: a 2-y double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Nutrition 2003;19(1):21-24.
[ii]Richer, S., Stiles, W., Statkute, L., Pulido, J., Frankowski, J., Rudy, D., Pei, K., Tsipursky, M., and Nyland, J. Double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of lutein and antioxidant supplementation in the intervention of atrophic age-related macular degeneration: the Veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial). Optometry. 2004;75(4):216-230.
[iii]Dagnelie, G., Zorge, I. S., and McDonald, T. M. Lutein improves visual function in some patients with retinal degeneration: a pilot study via the Internet. Optometry. 2000;71(3):147-164