As a type 1 diabetic I certainly know the importance of eye health and the importance of making sure you get those all important yearly eye exams. As diabetics we face a host of different complication buy none no greater than our eyes.
When I was first diagnosed, my endocrinologist mentioned the importance of eye health and that I may want to look into eye supplement (Lutein) to make it appoint to stay on top of those yearly eye exams, especially if I started running into any issues. Honestly not know much about lutein or ever really hearing about it, I decided to check it out to see what it’s all about, so lets take a closer look!
What Is Lutein?
Lutein belongs to the carotenoid family, a group of vitamin A-related compounds that may be able to reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease and eye degeneration, reports the International Carotenoid Society. You can get lutein from certain foods (my first recommendation) as well as from dietary supplements found in the pharmacy.
Lutein is a pigment found in large amounts in brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, corn, tomatoes and spinach. Acting as an antioxidant, lutein helps counteract the damage caused by free radicals, keeping cells healthy and protecting against illness and disease.
The Role Lutein Plays:
Lutein is present throughout the body, particularly in the eyes. It is found in the lens of the eye as well as in the retina, especially in the macula. It plays a significant role in visual sharpness and accuracy. Lutein is considered as an antioxidant, that protects the cells against the damage caused by naturally occurring chemicals such as free radicals, from the sun’s UV rays. Free radicals can impair the immune system, resulting in various infectious and degenerative diseases. Damage to the sensitive tissue of the macula, that is present in the center of the retina, that can lead to loss of vision, is known as macular degeneration. Free radical damage is one of the main causes of this condition and lutein proves to be effective against it. Here is a fantastic study, done by the NIH in regards to the role of lutein in eye related diseases. You can read that by clicking here
As diabetics we all know how important it is to stay on top of our heath, but what about when it comes to our eyes? I make it appoint to see my eye doctor every six months just to stay on top of things. As diabetics are we more prone to certain conditions due to consistent high blood sugar readings? Lets take a closer look as the question of cataracts was recently brought to my attention.
So first off, what are cataracts? Cataracts are are just one one of the sight-related complications of diabetes. The closer you manage your diabetes, the more likely you are to avoid any diabetes complications.
However, understanding more about diabetes and cataracts may help you to identify this complication at an early stage and seek treatment.
Symptoms Of Cataracts:
During the early stages, cataracts may have little effect on vision. Symptoms vary due to the location of the cataract in the eye (nuclear, cortical, or posterior subcapsular). Depending on the type and extent of the cataract, patients may experience the following symptoms:
- Cloudy vision
- Double or blurry vision
- Glare and sensitivity to bright lights
- Colors appear faded
- Difficulty reading due to reduced black-white contrast
As diabetics we all know that good nutrition is vitally important to keep your eyes healthy and functioning their best throughout our lifetime. Two very important eye nutrients that may reduce your risk for macular degeneration and have names you may not be familiar with: lutein (LOO-teen) and zeaxanthin (zee-ah-ZAN-thin).
You see, both are compounds called xanthophylls (ZAN-thuh-fills), which are yellow pigments that occur naturally in many plants and vegetables. Xanthophylls belong to a class of organic compounds called carotenoids, which also includes orange and red plant pigments. Though lutein is considered a yellow pigment, in high concentrations it appears orange-red.
Why You Need Zeaxanthin In Your Diet:
Zeaxanthin is a main component of the macular pigment in the retina. It is preferentially deposited over lutein in the center of the macular, the most important area for central vision. It can also be found in the brain and other organs.
The role played by Zeaxanthin, is to sharpen central vision (the clearness with which objects stand out from their surroundings), reduce the effects of glare (blue light) and maintain healthy visual acuity. These important functions all take place in the fovea, located in the center of the macula of the human eye. This is where the body requires a steady supply of the macular pigment zeaxanthin. Individual levels of zeaxanthin in the body are strongly influenced by diet. Zeaxanthin cannot be produced by the human body and must come from dietary intake.