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High Levels of Sun Exposure + Low Levels of Antioxidants = Increased Risk of Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is a common eye disease. The macula is located in the center of the retina at the back of the eye and is responsible for processing central vision.  People with macular degeneration have distorted or absent central vision. The exact cause of macular degeneration is unknown, but it tends to develop with aging. Researchers in the United Kingdom found that people with low levels of antioxidants who are exposed to high levels of sun have an increased risk of developing macular degeneration.

The eyes are vulnerable to damage from sun exposure.  Sunlight contains different types of rays and one type “blue rays” reach the retina to allow vision.  However, blue light can also damage the retina.  Antioxidants protect against blue light damage.  Antioxidants are components of a healthy balanced diet and include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, and carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin).

The researchers found that people with high levels of sun exposure and low levels of antioxidants were four times more likely to develop macular degeneration.  They also found that sunlight exposure during middle age appeared to be more damaging than that at younger ages.  The researchers advocate  that people  limit direct sun exposure to the eyes and wear protective gear such as sun glasses and wide brimmed hats.  People should also eat a well-balanced healthy diet to receive optimal levels of antioxidants.  Ask your doctor if antioxidant supplements are right for you.


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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.