We all know that our vision deteriorates as we get older. ‘ Age-related Macular Degeneration’ ( AMD ) causes more than half of the ases of blindness in the develop world. This condition does not only have physical consequences but it also has profound social and psychological consequences for sufferers, such as loneliness and depression.
The problem largely stems from deterioration in the central part of the retina, called the macula. As we age, our eyes cells accumulate damage from the effects of oxidising chemicals, such as free radicals, and from blue light. There is now growing evidence that a lack of macular pigment ( MP ) in this part of the eye is associated with more retinal damage from these sources, and correspondingly increased risk of AMD.
Chemicals called carotenoids are key. Carotenoids are the pigments responsible for the colors of many plants, fruits and flowers. They serve as Light Harvesting Complexes, with protein, in photosynthesis. Carotenoids are class of hydrocarbon ( carotenes ) and their oxygenated derivatives ( xanthophylls ). About 600 carotenoids have been isolated from natural sources. But, only three of them occur in MP in the retina. They are lutein ( L ), zeaxanthin ( Z ) and meso-zeaxhantin ( meso-Z ). And the concentration of these pigments vary from individual to individual. Spinach, parsley, egg yolk, avocado, brocolli, peppers, cabbage, watercress and corn are the best sources of Lutein. Zeaxanthin is easily founded in corn.
As well as contributing to retinal damage, blue light is also the part of the spectrum most suvject to scattering- wich causes glare. Zeaxhantin together with lutein absorb this blue light and protect our eyes from the degeneration and cataracts.
Based on these facts, we must try to persuade our self to eat our greens by promising it will give us better eyesight.
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