Cataract surgery is most common for people over the age
of sixty In the US, eye surgeons perform 1.3 million cataract
operations every year for a total cost of US $3.5 billion.
The lens of the eye collects and focus light on the retina.
It is important for the lens to stay clear throughout our lifetime,
In order to function properly. As we age, various components
of the lens may get damaged, leading to cataracts.
Medical research has proven that supply of sufficient anti-
oxidants at an early age can prevent cataract formation.
Antioxidants are needed to combat against free radicals,
due to ultraviolet sunlight.
In particular the fluid around the lens of the eye has to be
protected by antioxidants against oxidative damage.
The most important antioxidant is vitamin C, which is found
in high concentration around the lens, as well as vitamin E,
alpha-lipoic acid and beta-carotine.
A study showed that consuming vitamins in supplementation
protects the eye and decrease the risk of developing
cataracts by 50%. There is sufficient evidence that taking
antioxidants is an inexpensive way to decrease cataract
Another problem concerning the eye is macular degeneration.
It is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of
This is the decay of an important part of the retina called
macula. This is the area, which deals with central vision,
where the greatest concentration of photoreceptors are located.
We recoqnize wet and dry forms. Ninety percent of the cases
represent the dry form, in which central vision gradually
reduces and may proceed to the wet form for the remaining
There is currently no treatment available for the dry form.
The wet form can be treated via laser photocoagulation,
by which new vessel formation can be slowed down, which
causes swelling and bleeding into the retina.
Blindness usually follows rather quickly.
Theories suggest that light entering the eye and focused on
the macula of the retina causes significant free-radical
production in the outer aspect of the photoreceptors.
If there are no sufficient antioxidants available to the
photoreceptors, lipofuscin formation, a toxic substance,
within the retinal pigment epithelium, causes more oxidation
damage to the retina and research believe it is actually
the cause of damage and destruction of these sensitive
Lipofuscin accumulate in the pigment epithelium cells and
are eventually excreted in the form of drusen, which is one
of the first indications of macular degeneration development.
The development of drusen separates the photoreceptors
of the eye from its blood supply and causes an area of
High-energy ultraviolet light and visible blue light are in
particular responsible for the production of free radicals
in the retina of the eye.
Our natural antioxidant defence system that protects us from
this free radical damage, declines when we get older.
Macular degeneration is characterised by low levels of zinc,
selinium, vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoid.
High levels of carotenoids, called lutein and zeaxanthine,
absorb the blue light portion of visible light, that can damage
the lens and he retina of the eye. They are strong antioxidants
and are found in corn and leafy green vegetables.
CoQ10 can also play a part in reducing the oxidative damage
caused by free radicals.
Glutathione, which is a very potent antioxidant found within
every cell of our body, is in particular critical within the lens of
our eye and the pigment and the photoreceptor cells of the
retina. The level of glutathione declines when we get older.
Glutathione peroxidase is one of the natural antioxidant
defencesystems that our body creates. The nutrients needed
for the body to make its own defense are selinium, vitamin B6,
N-acetyl-L-cysteine and niacin.
Vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid have the ability to regenerate
glutathione. Zinc is important for the function of our catalase
antioxidant defense system and selinium is necessary for the
glutathione peroidase system and both are important to
combat free radicals produced in the eye.
As we get older, the lens of our eyes allows more ultraviolet
light through and no longer protects the retina from damage
of ultraviolet light. A good quality pair of sunglasses that
block all UV light are important.
Without any doubt, the underlying cause of cataracts and
macular degeneration is oxidative stress.
Consequently, we can’t be too agressive in our