Imagine your world with significantly impaired vision or loss of sight. This is almost unimaginable as we use our eyes for so much. The eyes are amazing sensory organs and part of an incredibly complex neural network within your brain that provides visual information of color, depth perception, and vast amounts of details of the environment. They even provide the “twinkle in the eye” and express emotions that words sometimes cannot convey.
Vision loss affects one in four adults over the age of 80 and over 37 million adults 50 years and older. By 2050, an estimated 750 million people across the globe will have some form of vision impairment. The ability to preserve the gift of vision and age well depends on daily choices and a lifetime of care.
Oxidative Stress Impacts Your Vision
Oxidative stress is a major cause of vision change and impairment. Cumulative damage from free radicals induces changes in the function and structures in your eye. It triggers the breakdown of microscopic tubules and “tight junctions” inside the cornea that gradually degrade vision. Oxidative stress causes altered mitochondria function and DNA damage in the retina, which affects the macula and lens of your eyes.
Oxidative stress activates NF-kappa B and other pro-inflammatory compounds that injure proteins, fats, cell membranes, and other tissues in your eyes. It damages sensitive tissues and mitochondria causing irreparable harm if it fails to be adequately managed over time. The capacity of your antioxidant reserves determines how well you prevent and manage ocular health over your lifetime.
Common and Surprising Sources of Oxidative Stress to Your Eyes
Common things that provoke oxidative stress to your eyes include light exposure, UV radiation/sunlight,adverse effects from medications,moderate to high alcohol consumption, and smoking with tobacco and e-cigarettes.Elevated blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C levels greatly impact the health of your retina and ocular blood vessels as they increase oxidative stress and down-regulate expression of the anti-aging gene, SIRT-1.
Both high and low blood pressures are stressful to your eyes due to changes in blood flow and how they impact your internal eye pressure. Too much and too little pressure induces oxidative stress to your eyes. Excess homocysteine levels also provoke ocular oxidative stress, like it does to your cardiovascular system. Optimal blood levels for homocysteine are less than 7. Vitamins B6, B12, and folate are especially important for homocysteine metabolism.
Evidence from a recent 2021 meta-analysis study showed that Covid-19 vaccines increases oxidative stress in eyes. Vaccine injuries have occurred to the eyelid, cornea and ocular surface, retina, uvea, nerve, or vessels. The health of your gut microbiome also affects your eyes.
Blue Light Exposure Is Worrisome
Blue light exposure and its effect on eye health is particularly worrisome as oxidative stress damage is irreversible. Blue light in excessive amounts causes mitochondrial apoptosis (cell death), inflammatory apoptosis, and DNA damage to eye tissues. Tolerance to blue light is different from person to person depending on their unique eye health. Excessive amounts can mean one thing for you and something else for another individual.
Blue light and other intense LED lights are of great concern for our youth and adults of all ages who subsist on the Standard American Diet with limited nutritional reserves and use tech devices several hours each day. They will likely have greater risk for poor eye health in the years to come.
Your Eyes are an Extension of Your Brain: Concussions
Your eyes are an anatomical and physiological extension of your brain. The information that you take in through your eyes is intrinsically connected to multiple parts of your brain for interpretation, meaning, and function. Oxidative stress from other things, like a concussion, affects your vision.
A concussion or traumatic brain injury increases oxidative stress and impacts your visual system. The initial injury from a concussive blow causes mitochondria to swell in the retina, followed by edema in microglial cells due to oxidative stress. The oxidative stress to your eyes and brain from a concussion can impair visual tracking, focus, balance, proprioception or knowing where your body is located in space, and other vision related functions.
Millions of individuals experience functional vision changes related to oxidative stress from concussion and traumatic brain injury. A recent JAMA study found that in 2020, 24.6 percent of adolescents self-reported at least one concussion, which is up 5 percent from 2016. Researchers are not sure if this is due to better reporting or the trending diminished resiliency for brain health. A concussion can still occur if you do not have a loss of consciousness after a blow or abrupt motion impacting your brain.
Nutritional Support for Ocular Oxidative Stress
The capacity of your antioxidant reserves determines how well you manage ocular health oxidative stress over your lifetime. Plentiful and diverse amounts of nutrients are required to maintain a buffer against the daily barrage of oxidative stressors to your eyes and brain.
Strive for 5-13 servings per day of vibrant yellow, orange, red, blue, purple, green, and black colored organic fruits and vegetables. Sunflower seeds, green and black tea, and organic coffee beans also provide antioxidants for eye health.
Key nutrients for vision and ocular health include glutathione,vitamin C,vitamin A and E carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene, EGCG (green tea extract), turmeric/curcumin, bilberry,zinc,astaxanthin, resveratrol,taurine,omega-3 fish oils DHA/EPA, hyaluronic acid, arabinogalactan, and quercetin.
Your eyes, brain, and mitochondria need B vitamins for vision and acuity. Some individuals may need extra vitamin B2 as it supports glutathione activity and quenches oxidative stress in the lens or vitamin B6, B12, and folate to help homocysteine metabolism. Make sure you support healthy blood pressure and blood sugar management which also helps your eyes.
Your eyes also require special fats like phosphatidylserine and choline for the different types of membranes, moisture, and neuro-visual function. This is in addition to the critical omega-3 DHA. Oxidative stress damages and breaks down these fats and therefore must be present in adequate amounts to manage daily cellular repair. Individuals who are on a plant-based diet, dairy-free, egg-free, or no-fat/low-fat diets will lack choline and may also lack other necessary fats and nutrients for eye health.
No matter your age, your eyes and vision are invaluable. Modern ocular medicine can indeed provide miraculous interventions with LASIK surgery, cataract removal, lens and cornea transplants, but entire eye replacement surgery doesn’t exist. Blurry vision, trouble seeing at night, loss of acuity for close or far away objects, central or peripheral vision changes, tearing or wet eyes, dry eyes, or blood shot, gritty, and red inflamed eyes all reflect undesirable changes. These irritations reflect an immediate need for free radical protection.
The retina, macula, cornea, lens, eye fluids, blood vessels, nerves, and mitochondria in your eyes and brain require many types of nutrients for normal function and to manage the daily oxidative stress. Top Wellness Resources eye support supplements include Daily Protector Eye & Immune,Daily Energy Multiple Vitamin,Daily DHA,Astaxanthin,Brain Protector,Carnosine, and Super Brain Booster,. Your children and teens need their eye vitamins too with all their screen time and growth needs. Super Mini Multi and DHA Kids are small, easy to swallow capsules for young ones.
Make sure you provide your eyes with the support they need now, so you can keep your vision sharp and clear for a lifetime of use.