By Dr S.S. Gill
Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about ANTIOXIDANTS
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF ANTIOXIDANT?
Antioxidants are substances that protect cells in your body from free radicals. Free radicals are the by-products produced when our immune system fights off bacteria and when foods we eat are broken down into energy. These free radicals are unstable and can damage the cells in our eyes and organs as a whole. Our bodies including our eyes are constantly exposed to these free radicals (oxidative stress). In fact, every cell in our body comes under attack from a free radical once every ten seconds. Antioxidants are like the “bodyguards” for the cells in our body. They protect the cells from damage by the free radicals. This is why antioxidants are important.
SOME THINGS CAUSING FREE RADICAL PRODUCTION:
Ultraviolet light – sun exposure increases chances of cataracts and skin cancer.
Toxins – cigarette smoke, poisonous wastes of our own metabolism, the chemicals invariably found in our food, pesticides and air pollution.
ANTIOXIDANTS LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN
Lutein and zeaxanthin are important nutrients that have been found to reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. These carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals.
FOODS RICH IN LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN
Green vegetables such as kale, spinach, turnip, broccoli, garden peas and eggs. To get the best avoid excessive cooking and storage as heat and storage reduces the antioxidant effectiveness.
HOW DO THE ANTIOXIDANTS LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN WORK?
Antioxidants Lutein and zeaxanthin filter the harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help to protect and maintain healthy cells in the eye.
LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN SLOWING CATARACT FORMATION
Lutein and zeaxanthin may play a role in cataract prevention. In fact, studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin along with vitamin E was associated with a decreased risk of cataract formation. This is because these antioxidants may slow down the oxidation of the lens and therefore slow down cataract formation.
LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN IN AGE RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION (AMD)
Age Related Macular Degeneration results in visual loss. Clinical studies done have shown that high levels of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduced the risk of advanced AMD.