Age related Macular Degeneration. What is the real cause?

Macular degeneration; Aging brings on a plethora of worries concerning health, particularly concerning our vision. This disease is a growing problem in the Western world, but one that's not discussed as much as potentially fatal diseases like heart disease and cancer.

However, when you consider the quality of your life as you age, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the health of your eyes. Age-related macular degeneration (or ARMD) is caused by increasing oxidative stress that, as you age, your body can't recover from as well.

The key to maintaining good eye health is a variety of practices, including adding to your daily routine a variety of quality nutritional supplements.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Our vision is made up of many different intricate parts. One of the most important parts is the retina. Within the retina lies the macula, whose responsibility is managing the sharp vision we need to read, drive, and see fine details. In macular degeneration, the macula begins to decay, leading to a loss of central vision.

As nutrition of our cells is depleted as we age, if we don't replenish the right nutrients for sound cellular nutrition, this macular degeneration will eventually cause partial or complete blindness. In many cases, the loss of central vision leaves our peripheral vision intact, but we can't see things that are directly in front of us.

The Two Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two types of macular degeneration - wet and dry. Most people begin by experiencing dry macular degeneration. This is the early stage of the disease and is characterized by a thinning of the macula and the occasional deposit of pigment into the macula.

As dry macular degeneration progresses, it can lead to wet ARMD. Wet ARMD begins when new blood vessels are formed that leak blood and fluid directly into the eye. This can lead to permanent blindness if not treated immediately. Approximately 10% of all age-related macular degeneration progresses to the wet form.

As is apparent, both of these forms of macular degeneration are very dangerous and can severely limit our functionality as we age. There are no current pharmaceutical treatments for either type of macular degeneration, but because of doctors' bias against nutritional supplements, you're unlikely to hear about the natural ways you can prevent or even lessen the effects of ARMD.

Aging and the Eyes

Before the boom of commercialism and overworked crops, most of the nutrients our eyes needed to function were readily available in our food supply. However, in recent years the commercially grown crops we depend on for health have been so degraded, we can't receive everything we need directly from the source.

Our bodies are wondrous things, innately built with the capability to ward off diseases, and our eyes are no exception. Early in life, our eyes are chock-full of important antioxidants and vitamins that neutralize free radicals before they cause permanent damage.

These days, however, we're living longer than we ever have, and our bodies aren't naturally equipped to handle all the stresses we put on them over decades and decades of time. We have to replenish our bodies with the proper vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, so that we can enjoy our "golden years" with vim and vigor.

In addition, because most of the damage to the eyes comes from free radicals caused by sunlight, it's also important to effectively shield your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. This means wearing sunglasses at all times when you're outdoors. Protecting the eyes both through nutritional supplementation and sun avoidance is a big step to leading a life free from eye diseases.

The Most Important Eye Health Supplements

Although we've heard a thousand times "carrots will keep your eyes healthy," that's not necessarily the case. Our eyes do contain beta-carotene, which we can get in abundance from carrots. But there are three very important nutrients that are sometimes overlooked when it comes to eye health - lutein, zeaxanthin, and bilberry. Studies have shown that the two nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin are key components to avoiding the development of macular degeneration. In those who have the disease, lutein and zeaxanthin are sorely lacking. It's important to note that these two nutrients should be taken together to get the best effect. Bilberry, or eyebright, is also an exceptional carrier of antioxidants that work together to maintain and promote eye health.

Other Important Supplements

• Fish oil. Fish oil contains a multitude of antioxidant support systems necessary for good eye health. It helps neutralize and eliminate free radicals before they cause irreversible damage throughout the body.

• Calcium. Not only is calcium an inherent part of bone health, but it helps keep several systems working efficiently throughout the body, including the eyes. For optimal supplementation, take 1500 to 2000 mg of calcium supplementation daily.

• Vitamin C. Studies have shown that people with a low vitamin C level are at risk for developing macular degeneration, among other problems. It's best supplemented in tandem with a natural vitamin E compound, for best effect.

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