Your EYES and EVOO - Blog #32

Your EYES and EVOO - Blog #32

Good morning All! Welcome back to another Friday blog. Today I wanted to delve into our EYE HEALTH looking at macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, eye “freckles” and how we can protect our eyes throughout our lifetime. Eye “freckles” (nevi) are similar to moles on your body. You will want to keep your eye on them (no pun intended) over time. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH): 

“Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of visual impairment among older adults in Europe and in the United States. Worldwide, the number of people with AMD is projected to increase by approximatively 40% from 2020 to 2040. AMD is a multifactorial disease including genetic and environmental factors, mainly smoking and nutrition. Diet is emerging as a potentially important modifiable risk factor and could be a great value to reduce AMD burden. Epidemiological studies have suggested that nutritional factors and dietary patterns may influence onset and progression of AMD.” WHAT????? They expect AMD to increase by 40%!!! Holy moly.

 The NIH describes “There are two types of AMD—dry (atrophic) and wet (neovascular or exudative). In most cases AMD starts as “Dry”, which then progresses slowly in approximately 20% cases to “Wet” stage. There is no known treatment for dry AMD. The wet AMD is responsible for almost 90% of the severe cases of blindness.” 

Glaucoma is when a group of conditions, usually caused by abnormally high pressure in the eye, damage the optic nerve causing loss of vision.

Cataracts are clouding of the lens of the eye. It is a slow process and vision is slowing impaired over time. Increased light and glasses help initially.  The lens can be replaced in out-patient day surgery.

There are a couple of large studies looking at AMD and olive oil intake from Australia (Melbourne) and the Alienor study, which is an ongoing population-based study including 9294 community-dwellling individuals aged 65 and older from 3 cities in France. Individuals are being followed-up every 2 years since baseline recruitment in 1999 to 2001. They found a decreased risk of late AMD with increased EVOO intake. They attribute much of the protection to the polyphenols and oleocanthal present in EVOO that reduces inflammation. 

Many things affect our eyes including, sun exposure - UV light damage, obesity - high BMI increases risk of macular degeneration, blood pressure - eyes receive less nourishment due to constricted blood vessels, diet - high blood sugar and high cholesterol increases risk, activity level - fitness and active lifestyle improves circulation and overall health, and age - affects 2/3 of adults over 75.

Risk factors that are out of our control include genetics, eye color (lighter colors are more affected), race (caucasians are more affected), gender (females are more at risk). 

Risk factors within our control include avoiding smoking (deprives oxygen), diet - nutrition, blood pressure and activity level. Here are some tips copied from VanDuyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing:

Tips to Help Protect the Eyes

  • Wear good sun glasses that have ultraviolet protection against the rays of the sun. Best are sunglasses that also protect eyes from the sides.
  • If you sit at a computer, be certain to remember to blink often and to turn your eyes far away from the screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds or more.
  • Quit smoking, as it dries up the eyes and this can lead to further vision problems.
  • If you suffer from dry burning eyes, see your eye doctor about getting special drops or artificial tears that will help to lubricate the eyes and keep them from developing further vision problems. 
  • Eat eye-healthy foods like leafy greens, beets, yams, apricots and carrots.
  • Your doctor may also recommend special supplements to take to keep the eyes healthy like lutein.
  • Make sure your blood pressure is under control. High blood pressure can sometimes lead to bleeding in one or both eyes and other problems.
  • If you suffer from diabetes you must also be under the care of an eye doctor, as diabetics suffer from eye problems like diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness. Make sure your glucose is under control.
  • If you wear eye glasses, make sure you do not forget your annual visit to your eye doctor. A painless dilated eye exam by a qualified ophthalmologist can detect all kinds of vision problems long before you experience symptoms. In fact, once there are symptoms, extensive irreversible eye damage and vision loss may have taken place. 

“Spanish researchers from the University of Jaén have found a way to add yet another antioxidant especially beneficial for good eye health, to extra virgin olive oil. Lutein is a carotenoid found in green leafy vegetables. In fact, lutein and zeaxanthin are found in the retina and macula of the eye.” They are literally adding this to their EVOO to help improve eye health.  The NIH reports, “lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoid pigments that impart yellow or orange color to various common foods such as cantaloupe, pasta, corn, carrots, orange/yellow peppers, fish, salmon and eggs. Their role in human health, in particular the health of the eye, is well established from epidemiological, clinical and interventional studies. They constitute the main pigments found in the yellow spot of the human retina which protect the macula from damage by blue light, improve visual acuity and scavenge harmful reactive oxygen species. They have also been linked with reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.”

Omega 3s are also very important in eye health, particularly in preventing dry eye syndrome. “Most experts believe the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in a healthy diet should be 4-to-1 or lower. Unfortunately, the typical American diet, characterized by significant amounts of meat and processed foods, tends to contain 10 to 30 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance of omega-6 ("bad") fatty acids to omega-3 ("good") fatty acids appears to be a contributing cause of a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis and depression.” Studies are revealing that Omega 3s taken in through food sources are more effective than taking an oral supplement as well. 

Okay guys! The research is proving eating a diet high in high polyphenol EVOO, fatty fish with good omega 3s and green leafy and red and yellow vegetables full of lutein is the secret to a long and healthy life. 

So, until next time my friends, drink, drizzle, digest high polyphenol EVOO, eat fatty fish, eat foods high in lutein, drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, get a good pre/probiotic, exercise your body and mind and turn off the light!!!  #EVOO




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