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Macular Degeneration

During the condition known as macular degeneration, the eyes are affected and eyesight is impaired in a major way. The macula is a light-sensitive area present right in the center of the retina-the retinal zone. This area is responsible for and controls the central visual field and in addition to this, it is responsible for color vision in all humans. During the disorder, this area of the retinal structure breaks down and this results in impaired eyesight and the inability to see properly. Typical symptoms manifested are a perfectly fine peripheral vision-this is the vision on the outside edges of the scene captured by the eyes, however, the center field of vision becomes blurry and gray, it may also be filled with a large blank spot which is a very typical result of macular degeneration. Thus this condition can lead to severe disabilities for the affected individual as normal actions like reading and driving, watching the television, or even the recognition of people's faces becomes very difficult or impossible.

This macular degeneration has two major types or forms-both of which can affect a person resulting in problems with eyesight. The first type of the condition is the related to the age of the individual, it is also known as the "dry" form of macular degeneration, in this type of macular degeneration, the macular tissue thins slowly and the bits of debris from it beings to accumulate beneath the major portion. This form of the macular degeneration is responsible for approximately ninety per cent of all patients reported to suffer from the condition. In addition, the development of this form of the degeneration is slow and gradual. The other form of degeneration is known as the hemorrhagic, or "wet," type of macular degeneration, here the disorder is characterized by the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina, these push up into the main macular area similar to how the roots of a maple crack the pavement they grow under. Scar tissue forms on the macula as these fragile vessels very often leak a lot of fluid and blood as they push into the macula, the central vision in the affected individual suddenly starts to deteriorate and eyesight is impaired at a rapid rate.

The leading identified cause of macular degeneration is the result of damage to the tissue from all types of free radicals in the body - these unstable molecular species can severely harm cells and tissues they come into contact with, they are the normal products of most metabolic processes in the human body. There are a lot of free radicals produced in the retina of people who follow diets which are high in the saturated fats, and exposure to cigarette smoke also increases the production of free radicals, as can an over exposure to sunlight-all these factors can result in the increased production of free radicals in the retinal region. Because of the fact that they often limit the circulation of blood to the eyes, factors such as a high blood pressure, the presence of heart disease, and metabolic disorders like diabetes can also be considered as contributory factors.

Supplements and herbs

The action of the free radicals linked to the degeneration of the macula can be beaten back by the antioxidant action of supplemental vitamin C and vitamin E, combined with different types of plant pigments called the carotenoids, these in combination will lead a neutralization of the free radical damage present in the macula. In this regard, particularly essential are the carotenoids known as zeaxanthin and lutein, this is shown by the fact that even the yellow color in the macula is due to their presence in the tissues that make up the macula. These compounds filter out all of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays and thus help protect the macular tissue from photo damage. The functioning of the retinal cells is also an important arena in which the mineral zinc works. There is some research to suggest that the regular supplements of this mineral may slow the progression of this disorder to some extent, this is because many older people seem to be deficient in this mineral within the eyes. Zinc when taken in large supplements leads to the inhibition of copper absorption and thus any supplementation of zinc must also include extra copper doses to replenish the supplies of this mineral within the body.

Use all of these supplements together to achieve the maximum protection, add the bilberry herb to the mixture for added effectiveness. Blood flow and circulation to the retinal region is improved by this herb which also contains antioxidant compounds effective in fighting off free radicals within the body. The bilberry herb if unavailable can be replaced by grape seed extract or the ginkgo biloba herb as substitutes. People who have poor night vision may benefit more from the grape seed extract while the ginkgo is effective for those who show signs of memory loss along with the impaired vision-both these herbs are not as effective as the bilberry in treating the disorder. The overall antioxidant action or activity within the body can be boosted and promoted by supplements containing the mineral selenium.

Additional things you may do

Protect your eyes from direct sunlight by wearing sunglasses and using wide-brimmed hats or umbrellas on sunny days. All patients will benefit greatly from stopping the habit of smoking, in fact, this is considered to be one of the main factors responsible for macular degeneration in affected individuals. Since all kinds of dark green vegetables possess high amounts of the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin-make sure that the daily diet contains sufficient quantities of these vegetables.

Usual dosage

  • Bilberry, 80 mg thrice daily.
  • Ginkgo biloba, 40mg thrice daily. Should contain at least 24% of flavone glycosides.
  • Grape seed extract, 100 mg two times daily. Should contain 92% to 95% of proanthocyanidins.
  • Vitamin E, 400 IU two times daily. If you take anticoagulant medications, check it with the doctor.
  • Vitamin C, 1,000 mg two times daily. If diarrhea develops, reduce the dose.
  • Copper / Zinc, 2 mg copper and 30 mg zinc daily. When you use zinc longer than one month, add copper.
  • Selenium, 400 mcg daily. Higher dosages may be toxic, so do not exceed 600 mcg of selenium a day.
  • Carotenoids, two pills mixed carotenoids daily with meal. Each pill should contain 25,000 IU of vitamin A.

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