Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly population. The macula is the part of the retina responsible for high-resolution and color vision in properly lit settings. The macula is yellow in color due to high concentrations of antioxidant carotenoids. The carotenoid compounds have the ability to absorb light that could be detrimental to the macula cells. This is part of the reason these same compounds are found in leafy vegetables as they work to protect the leaves from the direct sunlight.

Of the 600 or so carotenoid compounds in nature, only two are found in high quantities in the eye: lutein and zeaxanthin. Without adequate lutein and zeaxanthin, the macula is subjected to a higher rate of degeneration from light, especially the blue and UV varieties. The amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in the eye is measurable and the result is expressed as macular pigment optical density (MPOD).

So many cases of AMD can probably be prevented or at least delayed with enough dietary lutein and zeaxanthin from green leafy vegetables and from direct supplementation.  DaVinci Labs has a lutein and zeaxanthin combination (Healthy Eyes) that includes some complementary, eye-supporting compounds like beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, quercetin, alpha lipoic acid and some B vitamins. I recommend this particular formula as every two years I go in for my class 3 airman medical exam.  I do really well for a 65-year-old guy, except that until this year I needed glasses to pass the eye exam section. After taking the DaVinci Healthy Eyes formula (3 per day) for about a year, I was pleasantly surprised to pass the exam for the first time in about a decade without glasses. I have a family history of AMD along with some genetic markers that could predispose me to problems; early signs of AMD were picked up by my ophthalmologist. Taking Healthy Eyes for a year stopped the degeneration. This year’s exam was essentially identical to last year’s, aside from that major difference.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are not just beneficial for the macula, although that would be enough. Over 500 recent studies talk of lutein, zeaxanthin and the macula. It is interesting to note that these two carotenoids have also been the subject of studies for other chronic conditions as well.

Studies have also indicated that they can help non-alcoholic, fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD impacts approximately 30% of the U.S. population. Some positive effects have also been seen in cases of atherosclerosis, as well as with complications pertaining to diabetes, and in the fight against cataracts. Although the results probably won’t be as dramatic as with macular degeneration, it should help to slow the progression.

If you are over 50 — and especially if you have a family history of macular degeneration (or have any of these other mentioned conditions) — get a good exam that includes retinal photography. If you have even a hint of AMD, it is past time to begin taking Healthy Eyes by DaVinci to get those antioxidant levels up.