A study published in the American Journal of clinic Nutrition in 1991, examining the blood levels of several nutrients in elderly people with and without cataracts indicated that high intake of antioxidants – like Vitamin A, C and E reduced the incidence of cataract and caused cataract to diminish. Numerous studies have equally demonstrated that consumption of large amount of fresh fruits and vegetable containing vitamins ( e.g green leafy vegetable, carrots, citrus fruits and melons) reduces the incidence of cataract formation.
It has clearly been shown in animal studies that removing Vitamin A, C, E and the B vitamin-Riboflavin – caused cataract to develop and that replacing these nutrients caused cataract to diminish.
It will be important for our reader especially clients to understand the significance of these anti-oxidants especially Vitamin A, C, and E. Enzymes like Gluthathione, and Phytochemicals like Selenium, Omega 3 and 6 will be touched briefly.
Vitamin A was the first vitamin to be recognized in recent times. It dates back to the ancient Egyptian, Ebers Papyrus (1500 BC). Vitamin A is essential for night vision (via rods) while Carotene related to Vitamin A called Lutein is necessary for the nourishment of the retina (i.e the macula) to enhance colour vision (via the cones).
It is also very essential for the formation of tears to lubricate the eyes and avoid dehydration of the cornea and conjunctiva (i.e prevent dry eye). Vitamin A is essential for immunity and cell growth.
It is worthy of note, that Vitamin A deficiency can cause total blindness and it can be very fatal too. It manifests primarily as vision and eye problems, including poor night vision, cataract, and ulceration of the eye (i.e cornea)
Importance of vitamin A to the eye
- Betacarotene ( Vit A precursor) is very crucial to preserving night vision. Deficiency of it can lead to night blindness (Retinitis pigmentosa)
- Lutein (a carotene) is crucial protector against macular degeneration and cataract because it counteracts damage from UV and blue light
- Lycopene (another carotene) is a very powerful antioxidant. It has been reported to have anti-tumour properties. (it is found in tomatoes, pink grapes, water melon and dried apricot)
- Zeaxanthin (together with Lutein) is important for the protection and survival of the macula.
(For source of Vitamin A: see table 1)
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that blocks the breakdown of essential fats in cell membrane. Vitamin E is found in the retina and lens.
Importance of Vitamin E
- Several studies have shown that Vitamin E helps to reduce cataract formation.
- Vitamin E works with Selenium and Glutathione to help protect cell membrane and may support immunity as well as delay aging.
- Deficiency of Vitamin E allows capillary wall of the eye to weaken.
- Deficiency of Vitamin E allows drunsen to form in the retina. ( a sign of macular degeneration) and pigment concentration in the retina to be lost. (this decreases vision)
- They help to inhibit damaging effect of oxygen and UV light on the retina.
(Source of VitaminE: see table 1)
Vitamin C is second most important antioxidant in the lens of the eye (Glutathione is the first)
Importance of vitamin C
- Vitamin C recharges vitamin E and other antioxidants and helps lower cholesterol by binding it in the intestine.
- It helps to make collagen which strengthens retinal capillaries.
- It helps prevent cataract by guarding the lens against free radical damage. Study conducted in 1998 at Tuft, University of Boston found that long-term consumption of vitamin C (400 – 800mg daily) can reduce incidence of cataract, especially in women, by 77 percent.
- Studies have also found out that vitamin C can lower elevated eye pressure (a risk factor for glaucoma).
- Vitamin C is also necessary for corneal healing. ( Cornea is the black outer coat of the eye)
- Vitamin C is of particular importance to the eye health since they inhibit the damaging effect of oxygen and UV light on the retina.
(For source of Vitamin C: see table 1)
Enzymes are major antioxidant in the body. They fight against free radicals that destroy cell membranes. Examples of these anti-oxidants (or enzymes) are – Glutathione, Glutamine, Reductase, Superoxide dismutase and Catalase.
Importance of enzymes
- Glutathione and glutamine are both necessary for eye and brain functions.
- They protect the eye against cataracts and macular degeneration.
(Souces of enzymes- see table 1)
Bioflavonoids are phytochemicals. (phytochemicals are the chemicals derived from plants)
Importance of Bioflavonoids
- Bioflavonoids prevent collagen breakdown, improving the integrity of the capillaries in the back of the eyes.
- They help improve circulation to the eyes (especially the retina) and also other part of the eyes.
- They slow the development of macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Quercitin is a bioflavonoid that is useful in alleviating allergies and sinusitis.
- It can prevent diabetic retinopathy ( i.e it prevents blood vessels in the eye (retina) from leaking)
- Bioflavonoids couple with Zinc and Taurine, play very important roles in stabilizing the normal metabolism of the eye tissue ( i.e retina)
(Source of Bioflavonoids, see table 1)
The lens, the eye, and the whole body are constantly under stress. Some of this stress is from our environment, our diets, our body metabolism, and some of which we inflict on ourselves by our habits and by not paying attention to our total body health. We need therefore to consume a combination of nutrients, from both food and supplements that will help our eyes and entire being.