NUTRITION FOR THE EYES
The colour of your eyes depend on certain pigments which are present in your iris. But did you know pigments play a more vital role in your eyes?
The innermost layer of the eye contains high levels of pigments - especially lutein and zeaxanthin - and is called the retina (1-2). In the center of the retina there is a high concentration of light receptors which are responsible for sharp central vision and high resolution visual acuity (3).
Current evidence has suggested that certain pigments support adequate eye development before we are born; throughout our life span for vision performance in young and later adulthood; and plays a key role in lowering risk of age-related eye disease (4).
The pigments are partially responsible for converting light into vision. During this process captured light is converted into electrochemical signals which eventually provide our vision. At the same time, during such biological processes, many substances are generated: also in the eyes. One of these byproducts are reactive oxygen radicals. These radicals can be damaging for surrounding tissue, such as vital structures of our eye - and therefore our vision. As we get older, certain parts of the retina are susceptible to these degenerative changes. Marine Phytoplankton contains pigments that are capable to neutralize these radicals.
wHAT DAMAGES OUR EYES?
During light exposure and various biochemical reactions, reactive oxygen radicals are produced in our eye. These particles can cause damage to vital structures, which can alter our vision (5). The subsequent damage can promote low-grade state of chronic inflammation in the eye, causing additional damage. This oxidative damage and inflammatory play the key role in initiating age-related diseases (6).
ROLE OF MARINE PHYTOPLANKTON
A vast amount of studies have shown the ability of antioxidants to scavenge and neutralize these damaging oxygen radicals (7).
Marine Phytoplankton contains a great amount of antioxidants (beta-carotene, zeaxanthin etc.), which might help against the oxidative damage of these ROS (8-10). The most researched pigments with eye-protective properties are zeaxanthin and lutein (11). These pigments can also decrease the production of pro-inflammatory substances, thereby reducing the inflammatory response (12). Besides diet, other modifiable factors are exercise and smoking. The latter had pro-inflammatory and pro-oxidative properties, which can directly cause more damage to our eye (13).
Humans cannot synthesize these protective pigments themselves: so we must obtain these nutrients through our diet.
Seeing their protective properties, the pigments of Marine Phytoplankton can potentially improve or maintain eyesight through protection against harmful light and oxidative damage due to their antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties (14).
Further, we will discuss the potential of algae supplementation against two common eye diseases: age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
The most common eye disease associated with age is macular degeneration (MD). MD is the leading cause of irreversible visual impairment and blindness. By 2050, the number of MD patients is estimated to grow from 196 million in 2020 to 288 million (15).
Studies have shown that individuals with a higher zeaxanthin and lutein consumption had a reduction in MD compared to those with a lower intake (16-19). Thus, people that incorporate high antioxidative substances in their diets may be less likely to develop MD than diets that are lacking anti-oxidative (20).
Omega-3 fatty acids
Experimental, clinical, as well as epidemiological data have shown that nutritional omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a protective rol in MD progression and a reduced incidence (21-22). Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, they can decrease the duration and severity of inflammatory responses in the eye. Marine Phytoplankton is the primary producer of these omega-3 fatty acids, it is a great way to supplement your body with these fatty acids.
Various longitudinal studies have shown shown positive effects of micronutrients to prevent progression of MD, especially beta-carotene and zinc (23-24). Zinc is supporting more than 300 enzymatic reactions, and plays an important antioxidative role in the eye. Lower levels of zinc have been associated with worse night vision en degradation of photoreceptors in the eye (25). On top of that, research has suggested that antioxidant pigments such as zeaxanthin and lutein could be more effective than beta-carotene (26-27).
One of the most common complications of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy (DR), and it affects approximately one third of diabetes patients (28). It is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness (29).
Numerous studies show the protective effects of pigments on visual function of diabetes patients: higher levels of these pigments were associated with a lower risk of DR progression or development (30-33).
Other eye-related diseases
Recent and ongoing studies suggest that supplementing antioxidative pigments can reduce various other eye-related diseases, such as cataract, dry eye syndrome, etc. (34-35).
Besides age-related eye diseases, a higher intake of pigments was associated with improved visual performance in younger adults as well (36).
Antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and other micronutrients can exert positive effect and partially protect the eye against degeneration and excessive damage. Enriching your diet with Marine Phytoplankton - and therefore, its potential antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties - might support and protect your eyes against oxidative damage.
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Please click below to see which scientific articles were used to gather information concerning the subject.
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