Eye Health

What Causes Eye Floaters?
What causes eye floaters?

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

It’s aggravating when oddly shaped particles move across your line of sight. These annoying strands are known as eye floaters. These pesky items can affect your ability to work, drive or go to the beach on a hot summer day. Reading a book, watching a movie or performing day-to-day tasks at home may develop into a struggle. It can even become difficult to concentrate when spending time with friends and family.

If floaters interfere with your everyday life, you’re not alone. The National Eye Institute predicts that nearly everyone will develop eye floaters at some point in their lives. One of the causes of eye floaters is a lack of nutrients in the part of the eye known as the vitreous body. For some, floaters are manageable and eventually go away.  But for others, they are a source of uneasiness and stress.

What can we do about these distracting spots and specks? We’ll take a closer look at what causes eye floaters and ways to manage them.

What is the Vitreous?

Before understanding what causes eye floaters, we need to learn about where they’re found: the vitreous. This clear gel-like substance consists of water, collagen and hyaluronic acid. It makes up nearly 80% of the eye and resides behind the lens and the front of the retina.

The vitreous helps maintain your eyeball’s shape, absorbs vibration and keeps the retina attached. It needs specific antioxidants to protect it against oxidative stress and disease.

Here’s What Causes Eye Floaters

If you’ve wondered what causes eye floaters, research shows the vitreous loses nutrients over time. This causes the collagen fibers inside it to clump together. These clumps, called floaters, cast shadows on the retina and become more noticeable when looking at the sun or bright surfaces.2 

If you’ve suffered from eye floaters for a long time, you’re likely familiar with how they float around (hence the name). Sometimes they’re black and gray colored dots. In some instances, floaters appear as squiggly lines, threadlike strands, cobwebs or rings. They can even emerge as a dark or light area of vision. Other times, they make some objects look blurry compared to the rest of your visual field. As your brain adapts to seeing them, you may notice them less, but they don’t truly go away.

Other Reasons for Eye Floaters

There is more than one answer to the question: What causes eye floaters? The symptoms generally become more common with age. But if you notice a sudden increase in the number of floaters, it’s time to see an eye care professional for an examination as it could be a sign of a more serious issue. One such condition is a detached retina. This happens when the vitreous separates from or peels off the retina, the part of your eye that processes light. It doesn’t cause your eye any pain, but it could lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Other possible causes for an increase in floaters include eye inflammation, infection, retinal trauma, diabetic retinopathy, hemorrhaging or an eye tumor.

What Are the Treatments for Eye Floaters?

What can you do to maintain your eye health and manage floaters? Try eating more fruits and vegetables, wear protective eyeglasses (especially when it’s bright outdoors) and stay adequately hydrated. If you smoke, try to quit.

Your eye care professional may recommend risky, invasive therapies. These include using a laser to break up floaters. There is also a surgical procedure to remove the vitreous and replace it with a saline solution or bubble filled with gas or oil. This is known as a vitrectomy, and it comes with a risk of serious complications, including retinal detachment and cataracts.

Surgery may not be necessary, however.  Given that the vitreous requires a continuous supply of antioxidant and enzymatic nutrients, researchers from the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland hypothesized that giving participants these nutrients in a supplement, floater symptoms may subside. This trial, called the Floater Intervention Study (FLIES)1, showed a significant reduction in floaters and an improvement in visual function compared to placebo.

The trusted scientists behind MacuHealth are offering this patented nutrient blend under the name of VitreousHealth. This supplement is sold exclusively through eye care professionals.

References

  1. Ankamah et al. 2021. doi.org/10.1167/tvst.10.12.19

  2. Webb, Blake F et al. “Prevalence of vitreous floaters in a community sample of smartphone users.” International journal of ophthalmology vol. 6,3 402-5. 18 Jun. 2013, doi:10.3980/j.issn.2222-3959.2013.03.27

Eye Health

What are EPA and DHA
What are EPA and DHA? Read on!

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

Based on scientific studies, health care providers and optometrists are recommending patients increase their intake of Omega-3s. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered “good fats” because of their numerous benefits to the heart, brain and eyes. But many Americans fall short of the recommended intake of these ingredients. This is why Omega-3 supplements are becoming more popular, especially those utilizing fish oil as an ingredient.

Yet many patients are confused when they go to their local pharmacy or health care store. They see countless fish oil supplements on their shelves with many different formulas and price points. Many questions come to mind, such as: “What are EPA and DHA?” and “Which formula is the best?”

We’ll take a closer look why certain ingredients in an Omega-3 fish oil supplement are more important than others.

What to look for on an Omega-3 supplement label?

When looking at the label of a fish oil supplement, you’ll need to learn a whole new alphabet. Check the letters in the active ingredients. Many lower-cost bottles feature an Omega-6 called gamma-Linolenic acid, or GLA.

GLA can produce good results for the body, including some anti-inflammatory effects. However, it can also have potentially unhealthy consequences. The body can convert GLA into arachidonic acid, or ARA. ARA tends to be inflammatory. And because it’s in poultry, eggs and red meat, Americans already have too much of it in their diet. This can lead to more inflammation, not less.

Additionally, when identifying a high-quality fish oil product, check to see if the base formulation is “re-esterified triglyceride” (rTG) or “ethyl ester” (EE). Re-esterified triglyceride is natural, recognized by the body and has high bioavailability. Ethyl ester is cheaper and easier to produce but has ethanol as its backbone, leading to health problems and lower bioavailability.

So, what letters should you be looking for on a fish oil supplement label? Research shows that EPA and DHA are best at reducing inflammation and dry eye symptoms. But what are EPA and DHA? We’ll explore what sets them apart from GLA below.

What are EPA and DHA?

According to SFGate.com, EPA and DHA are long-chain polyunsaturated fats with 14 or more carbons. They’re shown to have numerous health benefits. For example, your doctor may prescribe a steroid because of its anti-inflammatory properties. However, these drugs have serious side effects, including stomach pain, indigestion and an increased appetite. EPA’s secret power is its ability to act like a steroid without the nasty side effects. EPA inhibits the enzyme that produces ARA, which can cause inflammation on the cellular level.

It can be said that the more EPA you have in your system, the less harmful inflammation you’ll have in your body. It can ease the symptoms of arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome and other autoimmune disorders. EPA can also decrease the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer and other diseases.

DHA also has additional benefits for the brain and eyes and is critical to neural performance. It increases the speed of nerve signals within and between these vital organs. This enhances our visual and cognitive performance, including improved reaction time, contrast sensitivity, and accuracy. When EPA and DHA work together, it provides optimal benefits to the body.

Conclusion

We’ve answered the question – What are EPA and DHA? And despite the scientific evidence proving the importance of omega-3s to our vision and overall health, getting them into our diet is difficult. The body only receives these essential fatty acids through food such as fish, shellfish and some algae or supplementation.

 

Taking a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplement is essential to delivering a safe and proven way to boost our vision, brain, and heart function. Because of the multitude of studies that have found significant benefits in taking EPA and DHA, MacuHealth developed TG Omega-3 Fish Oil to help us meet our current health demands.

 

TG Omega-3 is a natural re-esterified triglyceride formulation that is purified up to five times to eliminate toxins, impurities and fishy taste. TG Omega-3 offers 2,200 mg of EPA and DHA combined per serving. Next time you shop for fish oil, check if it has the correct formulation and letters on the label to give your body the boost it needs. 

Eye Health

reduce eye strain
Tired eyes? Here are some ways to reduce eye strain.

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

Do your eyes feel dry and tired at the end of the day? If you spend the workday staring at a computer screen, you’re likely driving home with a headache, rubbing your exhausted eyes for some relief. These are the symptoms of eye strain, and this condition is becoming more common as working from home increases. Around 70% of Americans are spending more time in front of their laptop, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, and your vision may be taking a toll as a result.

 

“Working from home has given us more hours to look at computer screens,” vision rehabilitation specialist Tanya Polec, OD, told Fortune. “The more stress we put on our visual system, the more likely we are to do permanent damage.”

 

The good news is you can take some action to save your vision. We’ll look at ways to reduce eye strain so you can feel some relief. 

What are the symptoms of eye strain?

If you want to know how to reduce eye strain, then it’s important to know its symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are the things to look for when trying to diagnose this annoying ocular condition:

  • Irritated, weary, or itching eyes
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Headache or migraine
  • Sore neck, shoulders or back
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Inability to focus
  • Feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open

How is eye strain caused?

Your eyes can become exhausted and strained when they don’t receive the proper amount of rest. One way to reduce eye strain is to give eyes a break after driving, reading a book or being out in the sun for too long. And if you have any underlying conditions such as dry eye or anxiety and stress, that can exacerbate symptoms.

But the reason for the steady increase in eye strain symptoms has been because of the increased use of computers, tablets, and phones. It’s become so widespread that the American Optometric Association calls this computer vision syndrome or digital eyestrain. If you are someone who looks at a computer screen for two or more hours in a row every day, you’re at the highest risk of developing this condition.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the reasons why electronics strain the eyes more than print materials include:

  • when staring at a computer, users blink less, which dries out the eyes
  • digital screens are placed at unusual distances or angles
  • glare or reflection from devices hurt the eyes
  • devices can have poor contrast between the text and background

How you can reduce eye strain

While it’s not a major health concern, eye strain can be an annoying condition to contend with. The good news is there are simple actions that you can take to strengthen your vision and reduce eye strain, such as:

  • change the amount of light in your room
  • take frequent breaks and blink often
  • try the 20-20-20 rule: focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes
  • adjust your computer monitor, its screen settings, and chair to see easier
  • limit your screen time

These health habits, in addition to daily supplementation, can protect your vision from eye strain. Science proves that taking a high-quality eye supplement like MacuHealth improves visual performance and can reduce eye strain symptoms.

Eye Health

eye test for macular degeneration
You may receive an eye test for macular degeneration at your next exam.

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

No one likes to get their eyes dilated when seeing their eye care professional. But according to WebMD, if you’re over 45 years of age, this is the best way for your doctor to check for early signs of eye diseases

And if you experience changes in your vision, it might be time to get an eye test for macular degeneration. This progressive eye disease can lead to distortions in sight and central vision loss. Some symptoms include:

  • A blurry or blind spot in the center of your vision
  • Difficulty adjusting your eyesight in low-lit areas or distinguishing objects from their background
  • Struggling to read a book or magazine or having difficulty recognizing faces

If it’s time to check your eyes, here’s some of the tests you may take to detect age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

What’s an Amsler grid?

Before going to see your doctor, there is an eye test for macular degeneration you can take at home. It’s known as the Amsler grid. Not only can it detect the signs of AMD, but it can also help you track any vision changes caused by the disease.

When you see the Amsler grid, you’ll notice it’s a piece of graph paper with a small dot in the center. To begin the test, start by holding the test far enough so that most of the lines are in view – typically the same distance from where you would read a book. Then close one eye because if you test with both eyes open, you won’t notice any abnormalities. Otherwise, one eye will compensate for the other.

If the lines appear curved or blocked out, it could be a sign your eye has developed the advanced form of macular degeneration known as wet AMD. The cause of the wavy lines is the fluid accumulating in or underneath the retina. This fluid meddles with retinal function enough to cause a spot in the center of your visual field.

amsler grid eye test for macular degeneration
The Amsler grid is an eye test for macular degeneration you can take at home.

What Tests Will I Receive?

The best way to manage AMD symptoms is to catch the disease as early as possible so that any treatments will be effective. Here is a list of eye tests for macular degeneration that you may receive from your doctor:

  • Ophthalmoscopy

 This test is also known as a funduscopy or retinal examination. Your doctor will dilate your eyes to allow them to look at your retina, optic disc and blood vessels using an ophthalmoscope. This instrument features a light and several small lenses to find any optic nerve damage, glaucoma and any drusen deposits, an early indicator of AMD.

  • Fluorescein angiography

This test checks to see if blood is flowing properly into the retina and choroid, the two layers in the back of the eye. Your doctor will begin by dilating your pupils and capturing images of the inside of your eye. Then they’ll inject a dye called fluorescein and take more pictures as the colored liquid moves through the blood vessels in the back of your eye.

  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT scan)

As you stare at a blinking light or target, the machine measures the thickness of your retina and optic nerve. This is done by using the amount of red light reflecting from these parts of the eye. Your doctor may or may not dilate your pupil for this exam. Not only is this eye test for macular degeneration, but it also detects glaucoma and retinopathy.

What Happens After My Eye Test for Macular Degeneration?

If your doctor detects any signs of AMD, they may recommend a change in diet that includes green vegetables, such as kale and spinach. They’re rich in antioxidants known as carotenoids. These nutrients replenish macular pigment levels, absorb dangerous blue light and block free radicals. Blue light exposure and free radicals are both known to contribute to AMD, so reducing the impact of these factors may slow or even stop disease progression.

Supplementation also offers a convenient and safe way to boost eye health. Studies show that supplements containing all three macular carotenoids boost macular pigment significantly. Consistent, daily use of high-quality supplements like MacuHealth is an excellent way to ensure that the body receives the proper nutrients needed to support visual health and performance.

Eye Health

Are you ready to learn how to improve eyesight?

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

Vision is our most precious sense, capturing the beauty of the world around us. It also allows us to perform at our highest level when we play our favorite sport, improving reaction time and giving us an edge over an opponent. The better we see something coming toward us, the quicker we can respond to it.

But while we work to enhance our joints and muscles, we don’t do much to exercise our eyes. Keeping the eyes strong through visual tracking exercises, dynamic vision training, and nutritional supplementation will enhance your performance. Below are some tips on how to improve eyesight daily that are less strenuous than your average trip to the gym.

What Is Visual Tracking?

Visual tracking is the ability to move your eyes to focus on an object that moves across your field of vision, including left to right, up to down or circular motions. The skill is essential for daily activities, including reading, driving, drawing, sports and performing basic manual tasks.

This visual processing capacity develops around age five without us even realizing it. The connection between the eyes and brain allows you to perform at your best every minute of the day. And learning how to improve eyesight keeps headaches and eye strain at bay and preserves our vision.

How to Improve Eyesight with Exercises

Improving our eyesight begins with simple movements to improve reaction times and hand-eye coordination. Here are five vision tracking exercises to get you started:

Smooth Pursuits

If you want to know how to improve eyesight, start here. Take something like the tip of a pen and put it at arm’s length. Begin focusing on the target and slowly move it from left to right and right to left until it exits your field of vision. If you feel any strain or discomfort, stop immediately.

Repeat the exercise on the vertical plane and the diagonal plane. You can alternate between slow and fast movements. Continue for a few minutes. If you lose focus, take a break to allow your eyes to recover.

Saccades

Hold two targets, such as a pair of spoons, two feet apart. Keep your head steady and have your eyes jump between the two targets. You can do this horizontally or vertically.

You can also focus on two items at a distance and use a single eye to challenge yourself. Cup your hand over one eye, perform the exercise, and then switch eyes. Increase the speed of your eye movements or move the items further apart to increase the difficulty.

Convergence Pencil Pushup

Take a pencil and hold it at arm’s length. Slowly move it toward your nose while always focusing on the item’s tip. Once you reach the point where the pencil doubles, slowly move the object back until it resolves itself. Hold the target in place for a few seconds and repeat the exercise. Over time, you’ll notice how this exercise improves eyesight as the pencil starts doubling closer and closer to the tip of your nose.

Vestibular Ocular Reflex (VOR) Training

Hold a target at arm’s length and fix your eyes on it. Turn your head horizontally at a metronome’s pace. Turn it back the other way while maintaining focus. Repeat the exercise on the vertical plane. Increase the difficulty by switching VOR training from seated to standing.

Ball Toss

You’ve been learning how to improve eyesight and visual processing since you’ve been playing catch. Grab a partner and stand a few feet apart. Plant your feet and face forward. Turn your body to the right by twisting from the waist. Your partner should toss you the ball. Catch it, then turn your stance to the left before throwing it back. Keep repeating, increasing your repetitions, speed, and distance along the way.

Conclusion

Learning how to improve eyesight only takes a few minutes per day, and exercises are only the beginning of enhancing your vision. Another scientifically proven way to improve your eyesight is nutritional supplementation. High-quality eye supplements like MacuHealth are clinically proven to improve visual health and performance.

Eye Health

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

best eye vitamins for blurry vision
What should the best eye vitamins for blurry vision have?

Humans are living longer. Medical science continues to make advancements to repair our joints, skin and other vital organs. But our eyes – which give us vision, our most treasured sense – continue to deteriorate as we age. This causes unclear vision and dark spots across our line of sight. As a result, some doctors may recommend risky invasive surgeries or injections. But this solution could make symptoms worse, not better.

There are also many eye care professionals who offer supplements to help patients manage their eye disease symptoms, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). But how can you tell which supplements will deliver a real solution? We’ll explore what causes our eyesight to deteriorate and what you should look for when searching for the best eye vitamins for blurry vision related to AMD and visual health.

How Can Supplements Help Vision?

There’s a good chance that if you’ve been researching the best eye vitamins for blurry vision related to AMD, you’ve heard of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and its follow-up AREDS2. The National Eye Institute (NEI) conducted both of these studies. Researchers worked with thousands of participants to see if nutritional supplements could slow down or prevent AMD and cataracts. These are two diseases that can alter vision. These supplements feature antioxidants known as carotenoids, nutrients that make the macular pigment. 

The study included the following results:

  • Taking AREDS reduces the risk of progression from intermediate to advanced AMD by about 25 percent, with an additional 10 percent risk reduction with the addition of the carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin (AREDS2).
  • Also, current and former smokers should take the AREDS2 formula and avoid the AREDS formula with beta-carotene, as it increases lung cancer risk.

Additionally, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, the two primary carotenoids in AREDS2 formulas, had “an incremental increase in benefit,” according to the NEI. Further Level 1 studies conducted show that by including Meso-Zeaxanthin, the third carotenoid that makes up the macular pigment, AMD symptoms can be managed or prevented.

What Should You Look For?

After the release of the AREDS and AREDS2 study results, countless supplements promising to reduce the risk of AMD flooded the market. But what should you look for when researching the best eye vitamins for blurry vision related to AMD? Here are four items to check for to help you decide.

All-Natural Ingredients

If the eyes are sensitive organs, then they can become irritated and damaged when exposed to synthetic ingredients. Be sure to protect them by checking the supplement’s label to ensure that what’s inside the bottle is all-natural.

Bioavailability

Bioavailability is the amount of active ingredients absorbed into the body’s circulation. Basically, it works like this: The higher the absorption rate, then the more nutrients go to where you need them. However, most vitamins degrade over time because they become exposed to light, oxygen and moisture. Additionally, researchers have proved that not all eye supplements offer the amount of ingredients they say.

“We confirm that a number of commercially available carotenoid food supplements do not achieve their label claim,” explained Dr. David Phelan, Professor John Nolan and Dr. Alfonso Prado-Cabrero in their study on supplements in the journal Nutrients.1

In order to check the bioavailability, take a look at the label. See if the supplement is in tablet or capsule form. Studies show that the best vitamins are oil-based capsules. Generally, capsules are more stable and less likely to degrade than tablets.

Meso-Zeaxanthin

Meso-Zeaxanthin is the most powerful carotenoid. Studies show2 that when it’s combined with Lutein and Zeaxanthin, these three nutrients become even more effective than when they’re on their own. Specifically, these ingredients are vital in rebuilding the macular pigment, filtering out harmful blue light, fighting inflammation and reducing oxidative stress in the eyes and brain. To clarify, Meso-Zeaxanthin is an essential ingredient in the best eye vitamins for blurry vision and visual health related to AMD symptoms.

Peer-reviewed

The supplement industry is unregulated. This allows companies to make false claims about their products and put inactive ingredients into their formulations. For consumers, the most effective way to verify a company’s claims is to see if the supplement has been through the peer-review process. You can trust a study’s results if it’s been published in a peer-reviewed journal. This form of quality control weeds out poorly researched work. It also gives eye care professionals and patients the confidence to trust a supplement’s claims.

What Are the Best Eye Vitamins for Blurry Vision Symptoms?

Of the best eye vitamins for vision on the market, MacuHealth was the first eye supplement to feature Meso-Zeaxanthin as an ingredient. Many companies now include this vital nutrient in their products. But over 40 peer-reviewed studies back up what MacuHealth’s all-natural Triple Carotenoid Formula can do to improve someone’s sight.

In terms of bioavailability, a study published in 2020,3 the current formulation of MacuHealth yielded a significantly higher response in the blood and retina when compared to standard macular carotenoid formulations. Additionally, another study showed that of the 46 supplements tested, 64% of them didn’t contain the amount of carotenoids promised on their label.1

To sum up, if you want to improve your visual health and performance, MacuHealth has everything you’re looking for.

References

  1.  Phelan, D., Prado-Cabrero, A., & Nolan, J. M. (2017). Stability of Commercially Available Macular Carotenoid Supplements in Oil and Powder Formulations. Nutrients9(10), 1133. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9101133

  2. Akuffo, K. O., Beatty, S., Stack, J., Dennison, J., O’Regan, S., Meagher, K. A., Peto, T., & Nolan, J. (2014). Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST): design and methodology of the CREST randomized controlled trials. Ophthalmic epidemiology, 21(2), 111–123. https://doi.org/10.3109/09286586.2014.888085

  3. Green-Gomez M, Prado-Cabrero A, Moran R, et al. The Impact of Formulation on Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and meso-Zeaxanthin Bioavailability: A Randomised Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020;9(8):767. Published 2020 Aug 18. doi:10.3390/antiox9080767. 2. 

Eye Health

does blue light damage eyes

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 does blue light damage eyes? We’ll share some reasons to cut down your exposure, along with proven 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 your 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.

But does blue light damage eyes? Prolonged exposure can cause eye strain and damage the macula, the part of your retina that processes your central vision. It accelerates the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and lowers your ability to see objects at night. It also leads to dry, irritated eyes and headaches.

Blue light protection is even more important after cataract surgery. The eye’s lens blocks some blue light on its own. Patients lose that natural filter that the cataract provides when it’s removed, which increases their risk for AMD.

Does Blue Light Damage Eyes in 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.

What Are Some Ways We Can Combat Blue Light?

20-20-20 Rule

As shown above, the answer to the question, “Does blue light damage eyes?” is “Yes.” And 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 rest your eyes 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. You can try using artificial tears and humidifiers to keep your eyes moist and decrease headaches.

How Supplements Help with Blue Light

We’ve answered the question: Does blue light damage eyes? But is there any thing we can do to absorb it? 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

However, 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.

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

Eye Health

Spinach is rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin.

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

Many AREDS2-based eye supplements list the antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin as active ingredients. These are two of the three antioxidants known as carotenoids found in the macular pigment – the part of the eye that facilitates central vision.

But researchers have determined that Meso-Zeaxanthin is the most potent carotenoid in the macular pigment. Despite its importance to eye health, our bodies don’t receive enough of this vital ingredient, and it’s not typically found in eye supplements, putting us at risk for diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

To clarify, Professor Riona Mulcahy said in an interview on Sky News, “The difficulty is that to get the amount of these nutrients that you need per day to achieve [optimal] results isn’t possible from your normal everyday diet.”

But what makes this ingredient so important, and how can we increase our intake? We’ll explain the benefits of this carotenoid and how it benefits eye health.

What Is Meso-Zeaxanthin, and How Does the Body Get It?

Meso-Zeaxanthin, like Lutein and Zeaxanthin, is a carotenoid – a plant-based antioxidant known for its effectiveness in promoting healthy tissue function and preventing disease. But the average person consumes only one to two milligrams of these macular carotenoids daily in their diet. This is because modern farming conditions have caused a decline in the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. 2 Yet, there are three ways that the body can receive this carotenoid:

  • Found in leafy green vegetables, the body can convert the antioxidant Lutein into Meso-Zeaxanthin. But there’s a catch: Some people cannot convert Lutein into Meso-Zeaxanthin. This condition, present in roughly 20 percent of patients, is particularly prevalent in those with AMD.
  • Meso-Zeaxanthin can also be found in the skin of some fish, such as salmon. But you would have to eat over 200,000 trout to reach the amount needed to start rebuilding the macular pigment.
  • Additionally, high quality eye supplements use marigold flower petals to provide a natural extract rich in the carotenoids Meso-Zeaxanthin, Lutein and Zeaxanthin.

What Does Meso-Zeaxanthin Do When Combined With Lutein and Zeaxanthin?

Of the three macular carotenoids in the eye, Meso-Zeaxanthin is the most powerful. It exists at the center of the macula, and studies show that when Meso-Zeaxanthin combines with Lutein and Zeaxanthin, they become even more effective than they are on their own. When they work together, these critical ingredients are useful in rebuilding the macular pigment, screening out harmful blue light, fighting inflammation and reducing oxidative stress in the eyes and brain.

The CREST Study

Many eye supplements don’t have Meso-Zeaxanthin as an ingredient, using the rationale that the body creates this carotenoid by converting it from Lutein. Others say there aren’t enough scientific studies on Meso-Zeaxanthin to draw a firm conclusion about its significance. However, over 25 placebo-controlled trials involving supplements with Meso-Zeaxanthin prove its effectiveness.

But what about patients who cannot convert Lutein into Meso-Zeaxanthin?  Without a supplement that contains Meso-Zeaxanthin, improvement of visual performance and reduction of risk for developing age-related macular degeneration may be severely compromised.  Therefore, to realize the benefits of using all three carotenoids, the inclusion of Meso-Zeaxanthin is essential. 

For that reason, two clinical trials published in 2016 and 2017 show the significant benefits of supplementing with all three macular carotenoids – Meso-Zeaxanthin, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. In the first trial, known as CREST3 (Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials), the evidence showed that those taking supplements with all three carotenoids improved their visual function – including contrast sensitivity, vision in glare, and reading speed.

 

Then in the second major two-year clinical trial with those diagnosed with the early stages of AMD, CREST AMD4, the results showed that those taking supplements with all three carotenoids improved their visual function – including contrast sensitivity, vision in glare, and reading speed.

 

Conclusion

Despite the clinical studies that prove Meso-Zeaxanthin’s importance to our vision, getting this carotenoid into our diet is challenging. Thankfully, supplementation offers a safe and proven way to do it. As a result of high-level studies, the evidence shows that consistent, daily use of high-quality supplements like MacuHealth is a great way to ensure that the body receives the proper amount of Meso-Zeaxanthin, Lutein and Zeaxanthin to support visual health and performance.

References

  1. [1] Akuffo, K. O., Beatty, S., Stack, J., Dennison, J., O’Regan, S., Meagher, K. A., Peto, T., & Nolan, J. (2014). Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST): design and methodology of the CREST randomized controlled trials. Ophthalmic epidemiology, 21(2), 111–123. https://doi.org/10.3109/09286586.2014.888085

  2.  Kwadwo Akuffo, Jessica Dennison, Sarah O’Regan, Stephen Beatty, John Nolan, Macular Pigment Research Group; Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST): Design and Methodology. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(15):3773.

  3.  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

  4. Akuffo KO, Beatty S, Peto T, Stack J, Stringham J, Kelly D, Leung I, Corcoran L, Nolan JM. The Impact of Supplemental Antioxidants on Visual Function in Nonadvanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Head-to-Head Randomized Clinical Trial. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017 Oct 1;58(12):5347-5360.

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.