The Delicate Macula

It is now widely proven by leading research publications that ingestion of healthy nutrients combined with avoidance of compounds that increase tissue oxidation and inflammation, are critical in maintaining the health and function of the body's organs and tissues.

Perhaps nowhere in the human body is this as important as the eye, in which clear central vision relies upon a tiny delicate anatomical structure called the foveola within the center of the macula of the retina. This pinpoint structure measures only 2/10 of a millimeter wide by 1/7 of millimeter in depth, and yet it carries more than 50% of the visual information in the entire brain.

Adding to the delicate structure of the fovea and macula is that it has no direct blood supply. Rather, nourishment comes indirectly from a deeper layer called the choriocapillaris, and healthful molecules have to traverse the retinal pigment epithelium.

Not surprisingly, the tiny fovea and macula are vulnerable to aging and deterioration, which then can reduce central detailed vision (reading, seeing a computer screen, recognizing faces). The changes in the macula occur primarly due to 3 factors:

  • Oxidation - this process changes molecules to an unstable state
  • Inflammation - this process is now understood as the root of many conditions, including macular degeneration, heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis and more
  • Genetics - the Human Genome Project has shown a number of inherited markers in families with macular degeneration. Tests such as the Macular Risk Test use a swab of the inside of the cheek to assess a person's likelihood of developing macular degeneration.

What Do Eye Vitamins Do?

Eye Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements for Eye Health target the delicate macular tissues and provide compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The important compounds include:

AREDS ingredients
Beta carotene (precursor to Vitamin A), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc and Copper were the 5 ingredients shows to slow the progression of macular degeneration in the National Eye Institute's landmark study, completed in late 2001. AREDS showed that these 5 ingredients, given in much higher doses than typically found in multivitamins, were necessary to penetrate into the macula and have beneficial effects. However, two large randomized population studies found the untoward side effect that high doses of beta-carotene increased the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Of note in AREDS was that beta-carotene was chosen as the carotenoid because at the time of the study, Lutein and Zeaxanthin were not available. The AREDS2 research proved the superiority and safety of Lutein and Zeaxanthin compared to beta-carotene.

Extracted from Marigold flowers, lutein is preferentially taken up by the macula in high concentrations. Lutein has a myriad of beneficial effects, including its role as both an antioxidant and blue-blocking molecule. Additionally, Lutein, along with Zeaxanthin, has been shown to increase macular pigment ocular density (MPOD), providing for improved contrast and reduced glare. 

Zeaxanthin is one of the most potent carotenoids and like Lutein, Zeaxanthin adds to Macular Pigment Optical Density. Zeaxanthin has powerful antioxidant properties. The National Eye Institute's AREDS2 study included 2 milligrams (2,000 milligrams) of zeaxanthin in several of its treatment arms. VisiVite has two macular degeneration formulas with even more zeaxanthin.

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Humans are unable to make some fatty acids that are required for survival, hence these are known as "essential" fatty acids. Fatty acids are found in many foods - including hamburger meat - but it is the Type 3 Fatty Acids (Omega-3's) which have the greatest health benefits. The Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids are found in high concentrations in fish, and certain fish, such as salmon, have high anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, fish oil have benefits for heart and vascular health and brain function in addition to support of eye tissues. The key components of Omega-3 fatty acids are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Omega-3 fatty acids were part of the AREDS2 trial by the National Eye Institute, and interestingly, did not show benefit. Critics of this finding have concluded that the dose of 600 mg omega 3s may have been insufficient to show benefit.

3 Easy Methods to Find Eye Vitamins on VisiVite.Com

  1. Start with our AREDS 2 eye vitamin page. It includes both premium and standard ARED 2 formulas for macular degeneration support. 
  2. Search by category. Many visitors are seeking Premium Macular Vitamins, vitamins for Athlete's Vision or Support for Healthy Eyes. This will show you the best options under each category.
  3. Still confused? Ask our staff online using the chat link at the bottom right of the page.

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