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Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Date:10/14/2008

The combination contributes to age-related macular degeneration, study finds

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 decad
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