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  • When Waiting To Detect Eye Disease Is Too Late

    October 15, 2019: by Bill Sardi

    It’s a bit gnawing to watch the vision of America’s senior adults fade as they age due to an incurable and insidiously progressive disease called macular degeneration.

    Since macular degeneration is regarded as irreversible, what is needed is a way to maintain eye health rather than treat existing disease, given that it won’t go away once diagnosed.

    And it is that objective, to maintain eye health rather than detect, prevent or treat disease that is the exclusive purpose of dietary supplements, a.k.a. nutraceuticals.

    Eye doctors primarily diagnose and treat disease.  That is their mission.  They prescribe drugs that treat eye diseases.

    Again, once vision is lost there is no reversal.  In this instance it is best to pursue eye health rather than wait to detect and treat disease.  So, how does a person know their eyes are healthy other than attempting to visualize all the letters on the eye chart?  Remember now, once you can’t see those letters it may be too late.

    A new test to determine eye health

    Well, researchers have come up with a test to determine if your retina is healthy, that doesn’t rely on visual acuity.  It is called dark adaptation.

    Eye picture: anatomy

    The macula (mäk-u-la) is the visual center of the eyes.  The macula located just off center of the retina in humans has a diameter of around 5.5 millimeters (about a quarter of an inch).  The entire retina is about the size of a postage stamp.

    The retina is comprised of millions of color vision (cone) and night vision (rod) cells.  The thickness of the retina is ~260 micrometers or just 1/100th of an inch.  There are 6 to 7 million cones cells and ~120 million rods cells.  (Wow, the human eye is a very intricate organ isn’t it.)

    Eye: retina, rods, cones

    There are about 52 million senior Americans over the age of 65.  Many experience difficulty adapting to light and dark conditions.  When it becomes difficult to adapt from bright light to dim light conditions, this is an early sign the retina is not as healthy as it once was when you were younger.

    The retina uses CONE (color vision) cells to see in bright light and ROD (night vision) cells to see in the dark.  When we walk from the bright sunlight into a dark room we are switching from CONES to RODS, from color to black-and-white vision.  Our eyes must adapt from daylight to darkness rapidly.

    The chemical our eyes need to see in the dark, rhodopsin (pronounced row-dop-sin), is bleached out by bright light and it takes a few minutes for it to be replenished.  That time period is called DARK ADAPTATION TIME.

    Man entering dark room

    What eye researchers have learned is this: if it takes more than six minutes for the rhodopsin chemical to refill, that is to adapt from brightness to darkness, this indicates your eyes are not healthy.  Delayed adaptation time also accurately predicts you will develop macular degeneration within the next few years.

    It is of primary importance to maintain eye health because, when you develop macular degeneration your central vision you use to read, drive, recognize faces and watch television is deteriorated to the point where you may need magnifiers to see things.  Life certainly will not be as enjoyable.

    Let me emphasize again.  There is no turning back once you have macular degeneration.  There is no documented case where people who lost vision got it all back.  So, you never want to get this dreaded eye disease.

    There is another home eye test that can help tell you that you have lost vision due to an unhealthy retina.  It is called an Amsler Grid.  You close or cover one eye and visualize the grid to see if there are any blind spots or wavy lines.  But the absence of any visual aberrations or distortions on the Amsler grid does not necessarily mean your eyes are healthy.  A special instrument that measures dark adaptation time might tell you that.

    Amsler grid

    Amsler Grid: close or cover one eye and view

    In 2017 an eye doctor ventured to try something to shorten the time it takes for the eyes to adapt to darkness.  In other words, to determine if there is something that would maintain the ability of your eyes to rapidly adapt from bright light to darkness and serve as a measure of eye health.

    A special nutraceutical was selected for the study.  Remarkably, it shortened the time it takes for the eyes to adapt to darkness in 14 of 16 eyes tested.  In other words, you can still see all the letters on the eye chart as you have always been able to do, but your eyes also adapted to darkness more rapidly.

    No news headlines

    Normally a discovery of such importance like this should have made news headlines around the world.  News headlines should have read: NUTRACEUTICAL HELPS TO KEEP EYES HEALTHY AS YOU AGE.  But our disease treatment system in America is not about health, it is about detecting and treating disease.   So, the world didn’t learn about this discovery.

    Oh, only 16 eyes were tested.  But I will bet that if a pharmaceutical molecule was found to maintain the eye health the news of it would have spread around the globe.

    Longevinex box

    What to do?

    But now that you have learned about it, what are you going to do?

    You can ask your eye doctor about this but he or she is likely to buninformed or unfamiliar with the dark adaptation test and the nutraceutical approach to maintaining eye health.  The usual answer is “it is unproven.”  But it has not been disproven.

    You may want consultation with an eye doctor who has a Mayo Clinic diploma hanging on his office wall.  However, that may not be instructive since eye doctors are trained to detect and treat eye disease, not promote eye health.

    If you want to wait till Medicare pays for the nutraceutical, then you will have a long wait.  Some people who are losing their eye health may not have the luxury of waiting.

    Who are the best candidates to begin a daily nutraceutical regimen to maintain their eye health?

    • Senior Americans who have a family history of retinal problems.
    • Senior Americans who have noticed they have difficulty adapting to night vision.
    • Senior Americans who want to maintain eye health and don’t want to take the risk of ever losing it.

    Vision is the most precious of the five senses.

    Is there any reason why you wouldn’t use this nutraceutical, especially if you meet any of the above criteria?

    Bill Sardi is founder of Resveratrol Partners LLC, maker of LONGEVINEX®

    Infographics: Dark adaptation

    These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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