ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Vitamin D Plus Calcium Guards Against Fractures
CANCER
Multiple Screening Strategy Boosts Cervical Cancer Detection
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
DIABETES
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
Just Say No to Nuts During Pregnancy
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Mediterranean Diet Helps Protect Aging Brain
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Preparing for a Chlorine Gas Disaster
Main Ingredients in Household Dust Come From Outdoors
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
EYE CARE, VISION
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
FITNESS
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Any Old Cane Won't Do
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
SENIORS
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Add your Article

Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- If you're planning to retire to Florida or Arizona for health reasons, be sure to pack your sunglasses.

That's the message from a new study that found that older people with low levels of certain antioxidants present in many fruits and vegetables, and who are exposed to short-wavelength blue light from the sun, are more likely to develop certain types of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). But the damage can start decades before you turn 65.

"We recommend that people use eye protection, including sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats, if going outside and especially in bright sunlight" and during the middle period of the day, said Astrid E. Fletcher, lead author of the study published in the October issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

"Our advice on nutrition," she added, "is that people should ensure that they follow the five-a-day recommendations. In particular, they should see that their diet includes leafy green vegetables, citrus fruit, vegetable oils and nuts, as these are good sources of the antioxidant vitamins of relevance to the retina."

Dr. Julie Belkin, an ophthalmologist with University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said, "Sunglasses are recommended anyway, and most people who have a normal, balanced diet will get adequate levels of those antioxidants. But there are vitamin supplements if you have other risk factors or other eye findings that put you at risk."

While the authors of the new study found that the link between blue-light exposure and low antioxidant levels was stronger in middle age, compared to younger years, other experts said it's unclear when the damage takes place.

"We don't really know how many years it takes" for AMD to develop. "For some people, it could be a few years in the sun is bad, and for others, a few decades is bad," said Dr. Robert Cykiert, an associate professor of ophthalmology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Previous studies had suggested that blue light may damage the retina and set eyes on the path to developing AMD, a leading cause of vision loss in Americans aged 60 and older.

Studies have also shown that antioxidant enzymes such as vitamins C and E, the carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin), and zinc can protect against blue light. But no one had really looked at how blue light and antioxidants might interact to affect the risk for AMD.

After studying nearly 4,500 older Europeans (average age 73.2 years), the study authors, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, found no overall association between blue-light exposure and neovascular (early) AMD.

However, blue light exposure was associated with neovascular AMD in 25 percent of the people with the lowest antioxidant levels.

"This is the first time they've looked at this in so many patients, but it makes sense from a physiological standpoint," said Dr. David M. Kleinman, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Rochester Eye Institute. "In addition to there being some things we can't control, like genetic predisposition, really taking care of ourselves in a certain way will really help reduce vision loss from AMD."

That includes exercising and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, added Kleinman, a retina specialist who studies macular degeneration.

A second study in the same issue of the journal found that, overall, visual impairment is more common in people with diabetes than in those without the disease.

The news is especially worrisome given the veritable epidemic of diabetes: In 2005, an estimated 14.6 million Americans had been diagnosed with diabetes, on top of 6.2 million undiagnosed individuals. The number of people with diagnosed diabetes in the United States is expected to reach almost 50 million by 2050.

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common complications of diabetes, but other eye problems can occur as well, including cataracts and glaucoma, according to the study by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some 11 percent of U.S. adults with diabetes have some form of visual impairment, 3.8 percent uncorrectable and 7.2 percent correctable. Almost 6 percent of those without diabetes have some form of visual impairment, 1.4 percent uncorrectable and 4.5 percent correctable, the study found.

More information

The National Eye Institute has more on AMD.



SOURCES: Robert Cykiert, M.D., associate professor, ophthalmology, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York City; Julie Belkin, M.D., ophthalmologist, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland; Astrid Fletcher, Ph.D., department of epidemiology and population health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; David M. Kleinman, M.D., assistant professor, ophthalmology, University of Rochester Eye Institute, Rochester, N.Y.; October 2008 Archives of Ophthalmology

Last Updated: Oct. 14, 2008

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