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 The Role of Nutrition in Maintaining Good Eyesight (Part 2) 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Your Eyesight and You: A Total Mind/Body Understanding of Vision by . View all columns in series

The eye has the highest concentration of vitamin C of any part of the body. Yet, lenses with cataracts have much lower levels of vitamin C than cataract-free lenses. The eye with a cataract has also been shown to be deficient in selenium, copper, manganese, zinc and glutathione (which the body normally produces on its own, but only if adequate levels of selenium are present). Some of the B vitamins - particularly niacin and riboflavin - have also been deficient in the eye with a cataract, though this deficiency is rare in the United States, where many processed foods are "enriched" with these vitamins. Excesses of mercury and other toxins have also been implicated.

According to a recent study conducted by John Hopkins University, people with the highest levels of vitamin E in their blood were 50% less likely to develop cataracts. A study reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology in 1988 showed that 200 IU a day of vitamin E reduces the incidence of cataracts by 56%. If 250 mgs. of vitamin C are added, their incidence is reduced by 86%.

Dr. Todd has been using nutritional supplements for years to treat patients with cataracts. He finds that if nutritional treatment is started soon enough (when vision is 20/50 or better), he is nearly 100% successful in stopping its progression or reversing the cataract.

In one study conducted by Dr. Todd over a 1-year period, 43% of the people showed improvement in their cataract and the other 57% stabilized the cataract completely and showed absolutely no further deterioration. All of these results held up in a follow-up study conducted 5 years after the original. Cataract surgery was avoided in every case.

As a result of this and earlier studies, Dr. Todd has created a complete vitamin and mineral formula different from others that are available. Known as EYEMAX-plus, Dr. Todd uses it as the basis for his nutritional treatment of cataracts.

(Another promising approach: The Chinese herb, Hachimijiogan, has been shown to increase the glutathione content of the lens. Hachimijiogan has been used for a long time in both China and Japan in the treatment of cataracts.)

Macular Degeneration
The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for fine, detailed vision. A person with macular degeneration loses central vision and also has a poor recovery from exposure to bright lights. The loss of central vision is due either to a reduced blood supply to the central portion of the retina or to edema (a swelling and leakage of blood vessels in the retina).

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people aged 55 or older in the United States and Europe. At least 3 million Americans suffer irreversible vision loss from macular degeneration.

According to conventional medicine, there is nothing that can be done to treat macular degeneration, although laser surgery is sometimes used to seal any leaking blood vessels. This surgery is successful only between 4 and 15% of the time (over a 5 year period). More importantly, it doesn't address the underlying conditions that might contribute to macular degeneration. (There is also a 50% possibility that a person's vision will be worse immediately after laser surgery.)

The primary underlying conditions in macular degeneration appear to be free radical damage and disrupted blood and oxygen supply to the macular region of the retina.

This would indicate that a nutritional approach that emphasized the anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals - vitamin C and E, zinc and selenium - could be helpful.

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 About The Author
Martin Sussman, president and founder of the Cambridge Institute for Better Vision and developer of the world's #1 Best-selling Program for Better Vision, is also co-author of Total Health at the Computer. Mr. Sussman......moreMartin Sussman
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