IN LARGE PRINT- It’s a bit gnawing to watch the vision of America’s senior adults fade as they age due to an incurable and insidiously progressive disease called macular degeneration. It is a malady that robs people of their central vision. Once this condition occurs it is irreversible. The afflicted with not ever again watch TV, read a book, recognize faces or regain their driver’s license. It is a final sentence of visual solitary confinement. Since macular degeneration is regarded as irreversible, what is needed is a way to maintain eye health rather than treat existing disease, given that it won’t go away once diagnosed. And it is that objective, to maintain eye health rather than detect, prevent or treat disease that is
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IN LARGE PRINT- It’s a bit gnawing to watch the vision of America’s senior adults fade as they age due to an incurable and insidiously progressive disease called macular degeneration.
It is a malady that robs people of their central vision. Once this condition occurs it is irreversible. The afflicted with not ever again watch TV, read a book, recognize faces or regain their driver’s license. It is a final sentence of visual solitary confinement.
Since macular degeneration is regarded as irreversible, what is needed is a way to maintain eye health rather than treat existing disease, given that it won’t go away once diagnosed.
And it is that objective, to maintain eye health rather than detect, prevent or treat disease that is the exclusive purpose of dietary supplements, a.k.a. nutraceuticals.
Eye doctors primarily diagnose and treat disease. That is their mission. They prescribe drugs that treat eye diseases.
The earliest detection is too late. If letters on the eye chart cannot be viewed clearly with eyeglass correction, it is beyond hope. In this instance it is best to pursue eye health early on rather than wait to detect and treat disease once diagnosed.
So, how does a person know their eyes are healthy other than attempting to visualize all the letters on the eye chart? Remember now, once you can’t see those letters it may be too late.
A new test to determine eye health
Well, researchers have come up with a test to determine if your retina is healthy, that doesn’t rely on visual acuity. It is called dark adaptation.
The macula (mäk-u-la) is the visual center of the eyes. The macula located just off center of the retina in humans has a diameter of around 5.5 millimeters (about a quarter of an inch). The entire retina is about the size of a postage stamp.
The retina is comprised of millions of color vision (cone) and night vision (rod) cells. The thickness of the retina is ~260 micrometers or just 1/100th of an inch. There are 6 to 7 million cones cells and ~120 million rods cells. (Wow, the human eye is a very intricate organ isn’t it.)
There are about 52 million senior Americans over the age of 65. Many have difficulty adapting from light and dark conditions. When it becomes difficult to adapt from bright light to dim light conditions, this is an early sign the retina is not as healthy as it once was when you were younger.
The retina uses CONE (color vision) cells to see in bright light and ROD (night vision) cells to see in the dark. When we walk from the bright sunlight into a dark room we are switching from CONES to RODS, from color to black-and-white vision. Our eyes must adapt from daylight to darkness rapidly.
The chemical our eyes need to see in the dark, rhodopsin (pronounced row-dop-sin), is bleached out by bright light and it takes a few minutes for it to be replenished. That time period is called DARK ADAPTATION TIME.
What eye researchers have learned is this: if it takes more than six minutes for the rhodopsin chemical to refill, that is to adapt from brightness to darkness, this indicates your eyes are not healthy. Delayed adaptation time also accurately predicts you will develop macular degeneration within the next few years.
It is of primary importance to maintain eye health because, when you develop macular degeneration your central vision has deteriorated to the point where you may need magnifiers to see things. Life certainly will not be as enjoyable.
Let me emphasize again. There is no turning back once you have macular degeneration. There is no documented case where people who lost vision got it all back. So, you never want to get this dreaded eye disease.
Also be mindful, nutraceuticals are categorically forbidden to make any claim they diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any disease. We are talking about maintenance of eye health here, not prevention or treatment of eye disease once it has been detected.
There is another home eye test that can help tell you that you have lost vision due to an unhealthy retina. It is called an Amsler Grid. You close or cover one eye and visualize the grid to see if there are any blind spots or wavy lines. But the absence of any visual aberrations or distortions on the Amsler grid does not necessarily mean your eyes are healthy. A special instrument that measures dark adaptation time might tell you that.
Amsler Grid: close or cover one eye and view
In 2017 an eye doctor ventured to try something to shorten the time it takes for the eyes to adapt to darkness. In other words, to determine if there is something that would maintain the ability of your eyes to rapidly adapt from bright light to darkness and serve as a measure of eye health.
A special nutraceutical was selected for the study. (Disclosure: formulated by the author.). Remarkably, it shortened the time it takes for the eyes to adapt to darkness in 14 of 16 eyes tested. In other words, you can still see all the letters on the eye chart as you have always been able to do, but your eyes also adapted to darkness more rapidly.
No news headlines
Normally a discovery of such importance like this should have made news headlines around the world. News headlines should have read: NUTRACEUTICAL HELPS TO KEEP EYES HEALTHY AS YOU AGE. But our disease treatment system in America is not about health, it is about detecting and treating disease. So, the world didn’t learn about this discovery.
Oh, only 16 eyes were tested. But I will bet that if a pharmaceutical molecule was found to maintain the eye health the news of it would have spread around the globe.
What to do?
But now that you have learned about it, what are you going to do?
If you are not accustomed to making independent decisions about your health, you can ask your eye doctor about this but he or she is likely to be uninformed or unfamiliar with the dark adaptation test and the nutraceutical approach to maintaining eye health. The usual answer is “it is unproven.” But it has not been disproven.
You may seek consultation with an eye doctor who has a Mayo Clinic diploma or diploma from some other prestigious university hanging on his office wall. However again, that may not be instructive since eye doctors are trained to detect and treat eye disease, not promote eye health.
If you want to wait till Medicare pays for the nutraceutical, then you will have a long wait. Some people who are losing their eye health may not have the luxury of waiting.
Who are the best candidates to begin a daily nutraceutical regimen to maintain their eye health?
- Senior Americans who have a family history of retinal problems.
- Senior Americans who have noticed they have difficulty adapting to night vision.
Senior Americans who have yellow cholesterol deposits (drusen) at the back of their eyes. Cholesterol impairs delivery of oxygen and nutrients to light receptor cells (photoreceptors) in the back of the eyes. Young eyes exhibit these cholesterol deposits early in life:
The prevalence of drusen is ~30% in the age range 20–24 years; 35.9% aged 25–29; 23.7% aged 30–34; 35.9% aged 35–39; 47.2% aged 40–44 and 48.6% aged 45–49 years. By age 70 better than 9 in 10 exhibit retinal cholesterol deposits (drusen). The nutraceutical identified in this report may help to abolish retinal drusen.
- Senior Americans who want to maintain eye health and want to eliminate the risk of ever losing it.
Vision is the most precious of the five senses.
If you don’t get ahead of retinal disease, by the time vision loss occurs, it is too late to do anything about it.
Is there any reason why you wouldn’t use this nutraceutical, especially if you meet any of the above criteria?
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Bill Sardi is founder of Resveratrol Partners LLC, maker of LONGEVINEX®