Listening to a professional or reading about AMD from the comfort of your home or car is the perfect way to learn about the condition and act.

Five Books and Podcasts About AMD

Written by MacuHealth

There are plenty of podcasts and books to help you learn more about age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease prevalent in those over 50 that affects the area of the retina called the macula. It’s the part of our eye that affects our direct line of sight. 

Books and podcasts are a great way to learn more about AMD, and listening to a professional or reading about it from the comfort of your home or car is the perfect way to learn about the condition and act. Below are some books and podcasts we recommend that can offer insights into adapting your life to the disease.

My MacD Life​

Many podcasts that focus on AMD talk about the science behind the disease but not the patient experience. The co-hosts of My MacD Life speak with doctors, caregivers and patients about their encounters with AMD’s symptoms and offer encouraging viewpoints. The SupportSight Foundation’s founder and executive director, Dawn Prall, and professional speaker, trainer and book author Shawn Doyle also share the latest developments in AMD research. Even if you don’t have AMD yourself, there’s plenty of inspiration and knowledge to go around in each episode, and most of them run no longer than an hour. 

Open Your Eyes with Dr. Kerry Gelb​

In the companion podcast to the hit documentary of the same name, optometrist Dr. Kerry Gelb interviews peers, scientists, journalists and other experts on the decline of health in the last few decades and how eye health is connected to that drop. Open Your Eyes currently holds the title of the top optometry podcast largely because listeners are taken in by Dr. Gelb’s curious nature with his array of guests. Some episodes focus on the link between AMD and nutrition, but others focus on glaucoma, eye surgery and diabetes. (Editor’s note: MacuHealth is a sponsor of this podcast.) 

Studio 1​

The guests on this award-winning weekly podcast from Vision Australia Radio prove that living with low vision and blindness is not a death sentence. Journalist Matthew Layton talks with a range of celebrities, experts and other extraordinary guests who’ve overcome their disabilities to achieve extraordinary things, including competing in the Paralympics, climbing Mount Everest, studying astronomy or helping others. In addition, Layton speaks to researchers and advocates making tremendous strides in the fields of optometry and vision restoration.

Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight

Most patients are unaware of AMD’s existence when they’re diagnosed with it. This lack of knowledge leaves them scared and frustrated. Dr. Lylas Mogk, the founding director of the Visual Rehabilitation and Research Center of the Henry Ford Health System, understands this feeling. She co-wrote this easy-to-understand book to reassure AMD sufferers the disease is manageable. In addition to first-person accounts from patients, there are tips on how to manage the feelings of depression after a diagnosis, disease symptoms, and the latest information on treatments. Consider it an instruction manual on how AMD patients can live life to the fullest.

Eat Right for Your Sight

Aside from taking MacuHealth, any doctor will tell you that a diet rich in leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables will help rebuild the macular pigment in your eyes. But let’s face it, you’re not going to eat steamed spinach and Brussel sprouts every night. This cookbook, written by Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Johanna M. Seddon, M.D. for The American Macular Degeneration Foundation, has delicious, easy-to-make meals to help support your diet and eyesight. It even includes several tips on how to prepare food to get the most nutrients out of each ingredient.   

Eye Health

Most people will benefit from enriching and maximizing their macular pigment throughout their lifetime. Macular pigment is constantly being used up as it quenches free radicals to protect the macula from oxidation. We are living longer, our diets are lower in nutrients, and we are exposed to greater amounts of blue light, so it is very important to continually replenish our macular pigment.

Continually enriching macular pigment provides two main benefits to everyone:

  1. Macular pigment is nature’s anti-oxidant protecting our macula from damage from oxidation throughout our life
  2. Macular pigment naturally filters blue light resulting in improving and optimizing our vision when young and healthy and when macular disease is present

Although everyone can benefit from enriching macular pigment, the following people will benefit the greatest:

Children and Young Adults

Children and young adults are more susceptible damage from high energy blue light than adults in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Blue light is emitted by our computers, tablets, smart phones and from energy efficient fluorescent lights. Our children and students lives revolve around these devices and they are using these devices a significant amount of time each day. In addition, many of these devices are held close to our faces so the intensity of blue light is higher.

Pre- and Post-Cataract Patients

Post cataract patients have had their crystalline lens removed and replaced with an intra-ocular lens. Cataracts typically are found in the elderly. Once the lens of the eye is removed the yellowing of this lens as we age is also removed. This yellowing in our lens as we age is called ocular lens pigment which is also a natural blue light filter. Once the cataract is removed the lens of the eye goes back to its clear child-like form making the macula more susceptible to blue light.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Patients diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD)a disease with no cure, have significantly increased risk of blindness as the disease progresses. Enriching macular pigment can help save the vision in the diseased eye and possibly delay the onset of the disease in the other eye.

Furthermore, family members of those diagnosed with AMD are at higher risk of developing the disease. Family history and genetics are the greatest risk factors for developing AMD. Therefore, if one of your parents, your grandparents or a sibling has the disease, your risk of disease onset is also greater.

Visually Demanding Careers

People with occupations that have critical vision requirementsEnriching and maximizing macular pigment will optimize vision for athletes, military and police.

Eye Health

The macula or macula lutea (“yellow spot” in Latin) is an oval yellow area near the center of the retina of the human eye.

At the center of the macula is the fovea; with the highest concentration of cone cells (photo-receptor cells) in the retina and is responsible for our detailed central vision. Central vision can be defined as your vision when reading a book or when looking directly at an object or someone’s face. It allows you to discern fine details, contrast and color.

The macula is shielded by an important and naturally occurring protective substance known as the macular pigment (MP). MP comes entirely from dietary origin, and is made of three carotenoids called lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin (L, Z & MZ). These three carotenoids are found in equal amounts at the macula, (shown below in the bulls-eye pattern below) with MZ being the dominant carotenoid at the epicenter of the macula (fovea) where our vision is sharpest.

Meso-Zeaxanthin

The most potent of the three antioxidants. It is found at the very center of the macula, the fovea, which is the epicenter of our central vision. This part of the eye has the highest density of photoreceptors (cones) and the highest light exposure. Therefore, the tissue at the most risk is protected by the strongest of the three antioxidants. Studies have shown that supplementation with Meso-Zeaxanthin has resulted in increased levels of macular pigment optical density.

Lutein

The protective role of lutein in the eye stems from its ability to filter short wavelengths of visible blue light, function as an antioxidant and stabilize membrane integrity. These functions are believed to play an important role in reducing light-induced oxidative damage which can lead to age-related degenerative disease such as age-related macular degeneration and cataract.

Zeaxanthin

The role played by the powerful antioxidant zeaxanthin in the eye is to sharpen central vision (the clearness with which objects stand out from their surroundings), reduce the effects of glare (blue light) and maintain healthy visual acuity. Zeaxanthin is also found in the brain and other organs. Zeaxanthin along with Meso-Zeaxanthin protects retinal tissue by absorbing similar wavelengths of high energy light.

macular pigment

It is no accident that nature has taken the trouble to give humans the ability to accumulate these three dietary compounds at the very center of the retina, where vision is sharpest, where color vision is processed, and where oxidative stress is maximum. Macular pigment limits oxidative injury at the retina by limiting the amount of short wavelength (blue) visible light incident upon the photoreceptors (irradiation with short wavelength light is known to promote free radical production), and also because its constituent carotenoids are effective scavengers of free radicals (i.e. antioxidants, just like vitamin C). However, it is important to realize that the collective antioxidant effect of the macular carotenoids is maximized when they (L, Z and MZ) are taken together in a supplement.

Macular pigment cannot be taken for granted. Humans do not have the ability to manufacture carotenoids, only plants produce them. Macular pigment starts developing in utero and comes from the nutrients found in the mother’s diet. As we grow and develop, MP continues to replenish itself from the nutrients in our diets. However, our diets today tend to be devoid in these critical nutrients due to a significant increase in processed foods, over farming and shortened harvest cycles. Since the western diet, even a healthy diet, does not provide for enough of these critical nutrients to protect our vision from oxidation over our lifetime, we must consider supplementation with all three of the critical carotenoids found in MacuHealth with LMZ.

Carotenoids reduce the risk of disease progression by providing antioxidative properties to the eye, brain and body.

Eye Health

Written by MacuHealth
Reviewed by Jim Stringham, Ph.D.

You may not know carotenoids, but chances are you’ve heard of antioxidants, the robust components of healthy foods that take on dangerous molecules known as free radicals which damage cells inside the body. There are over 700 carotenoids found in nature. Most fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, and some leafy greens feature unique carotenoids that fight an intense battle against free radicals inside the retina.

“The retina, especially the macula, is thought to be an environment of high oxidative stress, meaning that there is an abundance of free radicals—molecules that damage proteins and DNA within cells. Antioxidants fight free radicals and are thought to help protect the retina from this damage,” explains Dr. Ivana Kim, at Harvard Medical School.

If left unchecked, the damage from oxidative stress can lead to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in those over 60. Interestingly, three specific carotenoids deposited in the retina are clinically proven to prevent and manage the symptoms of AMD. We’ll take a look at how these three carotenoids guard the eyes and can improve eyesight and cognitive health.

Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin

As Dr. Kim stated above, the retina needs a massive amount of oxygen to fuel the process of transforming light into images. Near the retina’s center is the macula, which serves central vision and contains the largest concentration of photoreceptors in the eye. It’s responsible for bringing detail and color to our sight. Because the macula demands so much oxygen to perform, oxidative stress and inflammation can severely impact eye and brain performance, causing a decrease in processing speed, contrast sensitivity, and adjusting to low-light situations.

The body is aware of this, so it places three powerful carotenoids – Lutein, Meso-Zeaxanthin and Zeaxanthin – in the macula, where collectively they are called “macular pigment.” Their robust antioxidant properties make them capable of protecting the macula against free radicals. Because the macular pigment is colored yellow, it absorbs potentially harmful blue light. All of this leads to improved visual performance, including sharper colors, better contrast sensitivity and enhanced night vision. Studies show these carotenoids can also potentially delay (or even halt) the progression of AMD.

Lutein, Meso-Zeaxanthin and Zeaxanthin are essential nutrients for the eye and brain, but our bodies can’t make them on their own. The average person consumes only one to two milligrams of macular carotenoids daily in their diet, in part because modern farming conditions have caused the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables to decline.1 Numerous studies show that taking supplements with all three macular carotenoids provides far superior results than taking Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Evidence also points to these nutrients reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and slowing its progression.

Carotenoids Aren’t Just for Eyes

Studies show that carotenoids accumulate in the parts of the brain that interact with the retina, which can offer improved cognitive function. They combat oxidative stress that has built up over time, which is the root cause of Alzheimer’s Disease and could be beneficial in managing the condition.

In one study3, the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland and the University Hospital Waterford divided Alzheimer’s patients into two groups. One took a carotenoid formula of 10mg of Lutein, 10mg of Meso-Zeaxanthin and 2mg of Zeaxanthin. The second group received both fish oil consisting of 450 mg of DHA and the carotenoid formulation. A third (control) group of patients without Alzheimer’s Disease took only the carotenoid formula.

After a year and a half of supplementation, those who took the carotenoid formulation and the fish oil experienced improved cognitive function based on a series of independently performed tests, including functional benefits in memory, sight and mood.

Professor John Nolan , Ph.D., who led the study, explains: “Our previous work confirmed that Lutein, Meso-Zeaxanthin and Zeaxanthin are found in the eye and that enrichment of these essential nutrients with nutritional supplements can improve visual function. However, their high concentration in the healthy human brain also suggests a role for these nutrients in cognition.”

Based on overwhelming scientific evidence, it’s clear that we need sufficient amounts of Lutein, Meso-Zeaxanthin, and Zeaxanthin for optimal visual and cognitive health and performance. Thankfully, supplementation can help us reach the levels we need to realize all the benefits.  

References

  1. Johnson, E. J., Maras, J. E., Rasmussen, H. M., & Tucker, K. L. (2010). Intake of lutein and zeaxanthin differ with age, sex, and ethnicity. Journal of the American Dietetic Association110(9), 1357–1362. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2010.06.009
  2. Li, B., Ahmed, F., & Bernstein, P. S. (2010). Studies on the singlet oxygen scavenging mechanism of human macular pigment. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics504(1), 56–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abb.2010.07.024
  3. Nolan, J. M., Mulcahy, R., Power, R., Moran, R., & Howard, A. N. (2018). Nutritional Intervention to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease: Potential Benefits of Xanthophyll Carotenoids and Omega-3 Fatty Acids Combined. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD64(2), 367–378. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-180160

Eye Health

Written by MacuHealth
Reviewed by Jim Stringham, Ph.D.

Blue light is inescapable. We’re exposed to its short, high-energy wavelengths when we check our phones in the morning, and it strains our eyes as we stare at our computer monitors and tablets at work. Blue light is in the sunlight and fills our home when we turn on the lights and television sets.

But we can protect ourselves from blue light’s harmful effects. We’ll share the reasons why you should be concerned about long-term blue light exposure and ways you can protect your eyes.

Headaches, Eye Strain and Sleepless Nights

Blue light isn’t entirely unhealthy. Studies show it’s vital for some body functions. It releases serotonin, a ho­­rmone that can boost mood and improve memory and reaction time. It also keeps us alert during the day and enhances our color vision.

But exposure to blue light at certain times of the day can be harmful. A Harvard study showed that blue light exposure before bedtime slows down the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our body’s circadian rhythm (or sleeping pattern). This disruption leaves us feeling more tired throughout the day, putting us at risk for depression, diabetes and heart issues.

Prolonged blue light exposure also strains the eyes and damages the macula, the part of your retina that processes your central vision. It accelerates the onset of age-related macular degeneration and lowers your ability to see objects at night. It also leads to dry, irritated eyes and headaches.

In older patients, blue light protection is even more important after cataract surgery. The eye’s lens blocks some blue light on its own. When a cataract is removed, patients lose that natural filter that the cataract provided, which increases their risk for AMD.

Blue Light’s Effect on Children

Increased screen time can be harmful to children’s developing vision. In addition to the effects of blue light on their sleeping pattern, studies have shown that nearsightedness (also known as myopia) is increasingly prevalent among kids, with tablets and video game consoles suggested as the culprit.a

What Are Some Ways We Can Combat Blue Light?

20-20-20 Rule

As the public becomes better educated on the dangers of blue light, device manufacturers have added a dark mode and other settings to products to reduce glare and block blue light by 30 to 60 percent. You can also give your eyes a rest by taking a 20-second break from your screen every 20 minutes, then focusing on an object 20 feet away.

Blue Light Glasses

Blue-blocking glasses have become popular over the last few years. They’re proven to stop blue light, but researchers don’t recommend them as they’ve been ineffective at reducing eye strain. Try using artificial tears and humidifiers instead to keep your eyes moist and decrease headaches.

How Supplements Help with Blue Light

Several nutrition-based studies have demonstrated that we tend to fall short in our intake of fruits and vegetables, particularly the three antioxidant carotenoids that protect the central retina against blue light – Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-Zeaxanthin.  Over time, without these nutrients, we run the risk of degeneration in our central retina. Consistent consumption of these carotenoids is necessary to maintain the health of the macula, especially as we age.

In one clinical study, those who spent more than six hours in front of a screen and took a macular carotenoid supplement with Lutein, Meso-Zeaxanthin and Zeaxanthin showed a significant reduction in headaches, eye strain and fatigue. There was also an increased improvement in sleep quality and macular pigment levels.1

Although the body can absorb these carotenoids from spinach, carrots and other foods, the average person only consumes one to two milligrams of them daily in their diet.2 Additionally, new farming methods and environmental conditions have caused a decline in the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, which means that we get about 1/20th of the recommended amount of these vital nutrients.

Supplementation with these three carotenoids is a viable way to ensure high levels in the retina, Quality supplements like MacuHealth are an excellent way to ensure that the body receives the proper amount of the essential carotenoids it needs to support visual health and performance. Studies show that supplements containing Lutein, Meso-Zeaxanthin and Zeaxanthin increase the macular pigment significantly, improve visual performance and absorb blue light.

References

  1. Stringham, J. M., Stringham, N. T., & O’Brien, K. J. (2017). Macular Carotenoid Supplementation Improves Visual Performance, Sleep Quality, and Adverse Physical Symptoms in Those with High Screen Time Exposure. Foods (Basel, Switzerland)6(7), 47. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods6070047
  2. Johnson, E. J., Maras, J. E., Rasmussen, H. M., & Tucker, K. L. (2010). Intake of lutein and zeaxanthin differ with age, sex, and ethnicity. Journal of the American Dietetic Association110(9), 1357–1362. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2010.06.009
Young Scientist Working in The Laboratory

Eye Health

Written by MacuHealth
Reviewed by Jim Stringham, Ph.D.

Nutritional supplements are notoriously unregulated, meaning that companies can make false claims about their products and put inactive ingredients in their formulations. As bad as this may sound, it has happened.

So, who can you trust?  The most effective way to evaluate any product claims is to examine the science (if any) conducted on it.  Some companies may conduct in-house scientific testing and often advertise their “findings” on their website or social media. Yet, the most trusted and respected form of science is called peer-reviewed.

But what does being peer-reviewed mean to patients? We’ll define what the term means and review what research must undergo to achieve this status.

What Does Peer-Reviewed Mean?

In a nutshell, a peer-reviewed publication is what the name suggests: a scientific investigation thoroughly analyzed by at least two other independent researchers (peers) in the same area of study. More specifically, the peer review process is a form of quality control intended to weed out poorly researched work in order to maintain a scientific journal’s integrity. But to fully understand what becoming “peer-reviewed” is, it’s necessary to understand the distinction between a piece found in a widely published periodical or on social media and a bona fide scholarly article.

Before a newspaper or a magazine publishes an article, an editor checks it for, among other things, readability by a large audience. It then undergoes a fact-checking process to ensure that the writer’s story is correct and that any facts or statistics used in the article haven’t changed. There is usually one person designated to do this, and often, the author, editor or fact-checker is not an expert in a particular field.

When a scholar sends their research for publication to a journal, the editor ensures that it’s written for an audience of researchers, which means it’ll contain terms typically understood by experts. But instead of sending to one person for a fact-check, the journal’s editor sends these findings to peers as an extra step in the publication process.

“Peer-reviewed publication is a scientific investigation thoroughly analyzed by at least two other independent researchers (peers) in the same area of study. More specifically, the peer review process is a form of quality control intended to weed out poorly researched work in order to maintain a scientific journal’s integrity.”

The Process of Becoming Peer-Reviewed

The method of peer-reviewing can be complicated and lengthy. According to the American Psychological Association, here are the four steps of the journey:

  1. A scholar submits their research paper to a journal. The publication’s editor determines if the manuscript is free from any flaws or conflicts of interest, then selects qualified individuals in the author’s field of study to offer a fair review.
  1. Review Research and Statistics. The editor and the selected peers review the paper in its entirety, including any tables or figures attached, to ensure that the information not only follows the publication’s guidelines but is also well-organized, coherent, clearly defined and relevant. Often, this process is double-blind, which means the identity of the author and reviewers is unknown to avoid any bias. 
  1. It can take several weeks for a journal to decide to publish a paper, and most get sent back to the author with suggestions for revision. Feedback can include reorganizing the research structure or conducting additional experiments. Typically, the peers who reviewed the original document will view the revised manuscript.
  1. If the revisions are approved, the editor will schedule the paper for publication. If the author receives a rejection and believes a point was overlooked or misunderstood, they can appeal the decision. The time from submission to publication can be nearly a year.

The Benefits of Being Peer-Reviewed

MacuHealth’s motto is “Embrace the science,” and completing the peer-review process is a significant test of scientific integrity. There are over 30 peer-reviewed publications that support the effectiveness, bioavailability, and safety of MacuHealth’s formulations, which speaks to its dedication to science.  Despite the length of time it takes to be peer-reviewed, it’s vital for the safety and trust of its customers.

When researchers evaluate MacuHealth in their studies, and the results of them are peer-reviewed and ultimately published, it gives eye care professionals and patients confidence to trust its claims and realize the supplement’s health benefits. Its willingness to undergo this process is a vital part of what sets MacuHealth apart from the competition.