Macular degeneration is fast becoming one of the leading causes of loss of vision. There are now ways to determine your level of risk for macular degeneration and new nutritional supplements to help lower your risk of developing macular degeneration.
MACULAR DEGENERATION, MACULAR PROTECTIVE PIGMENT AND REDUCING YOUR RISK
Macular degeneration is a condition caused by the breakdown of the macula, resulting in poor central vision. The macula is the center part of the retina, which is the light sensitive layer of tissue on the back surface of the eye. The macula is responsible for color vision and detailed vision for tasks such as reading and driving. Every year 1.2 million people with macular degeneration loose part of their central vision and 200,000 suffer complete loss of central vision in one or both eyes.
Causes of Macular Degeneration
The specific cause of macular degeneration is unknown. The risk for macular degeneration increases with age. In addition to the major risk factor of having a low macular protective pigment (MPP) level, other risk factors include:
- family history
- light pigmentation
- high cholesterol
- sun exposure
- cardiovascular disease
- gender — female
- light colored eyes
- fatty diet
- certain medications
What is macular protective pigment (MPP) and why is it so important?
Macular protective pigment is a unique accumulation of three yellow carotenoids that are only found in the anterior portion of the central macula. These three carotenoids are Lutein (L), Meso-zeaxanthin (MZ), and Zeaxanthin (Z) and are found in the macula. This yellow layer of pigment acts like a shield over the delicate retinal cells of the macula that give us sight. The MPP filters out and absorbs cell damaging, high-energy, blue wavelengths and ultraviolet wavelengths of light. In addition L, MZ, and Z are among the strongest anti-oxidants (MZ being the strongest) in our bodies, which protect the central retina from free radicals that are plentiful in this highly active tissue. There is a growing and compelling body of evidence, which concludes that an insufficient level of the MPP substantially increases the risk for developing macular degeneration by as much as 40%.
Other benefits of a healthy MPP may include better visual acuity, improved contrast sensitivity, and a decrease in glare recovery time.
Where does MPP come from?
Our bodies do not manufacture carotenoids. They must be consumed. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are dietary carotenoids and they are found in peppers, corn, green leafy vegetables and egg yolks. These can be measured in the blood serum. MZ, however, the third component of MPP, is not a part of our diet and can not be detected in the blood serum. Yet, MZ makes up over one third of the MPP.
Why is MZ so special?
MZ is the most potent antioxidant of the three macular carotenoids, and is only found in the center of the macula. Research has proven that MZ is actually created in the center of the macula and is converted from Lutein, most likely by an enzyme mediated process. Studies have shown that by oral supplementation of MZ, it is taken up and accumulated in the macula.
What’s causes a low level of MPP?
A low MPP level can be multifactorial. The most common causes are dietary insufficiency, a lack of ability to convert Lutein into Meso-zeaxanthin, and a slow decline that occurs with aging. It is also possible that the ability to absorb Lutein and Zeaxanthin may be impaired. Regardless of the cause, an adequate MPP level is a necessity to maintain healthy maculas.
What can be done to prevent macular degeneration?
Some risk factors can be modified. People can stop smoking, wear sunglasses, lose weight and improve their diets. LMZ3 is the exclusive triple carotenoid supplement, containing Lutein, Meso-zeaxanthin and Zeaxanthin. This combination of carotenoids has been clinically proven to increase the MPP level in the macula in as little as 6 months. LMZ3 is indicated for anyone with a low MPP level or other significant risk factors. In addition the original Age-related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), concluded that patients with any stage of macular degeneration could benefit from carotenoid supplementation.
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