Eyesight is one of your most – if not your most – cherished senses. If you have good eyesight, it’s hard to imagine life without it.
In fact, the majority of people rank vision loss as one of the worst possible health outcomes, even more than losing their hearing, speech, memory or a limb.
You depend on your eyesight for much more than just seeing. It’s what connects you to the world and provides you with your independence.
The latest research suggests that 80% of all cases of visual impairment may be avoidable. However, that depends upon taking appropriate action at the first signs of potential trouble.
For example, have you begun to notice that you...
- Can’t see as well as you used to, especially at night?
- Get eye strain, fatigue or headaches from reading or electronic screens?
- Can no longer read without glasses?
- Can’t see things in the distance?
These signs of eye issues and deteriorating vision are often a side effect of our modern lifestyle – and they affect people of all ages, including kids.
You see, 20 years ago – or even just a decade ago if you’re under 30 – your eyes didn’t have to work nearly as hard as they do today. We weren’t using so many energy-saving LED light bulbs or staring at digital screens for most of our waking hours.
Researchers are beginning to understand the short-term effects and the long-term changes these sources of light can have on your vision and overall eye health, and as you’ll soon discover, even your mental health, cognition and sleep.
How Our Digital Lifestyles Are Impacting Our Health
About one-third of all visible light is considered high-energy visible, or “blue,” light of which sunlight is the major source. Artificial sources of blue light include fluorescent bulbs, LEDs, flat screen televisions, computer monitors, smart phones and tablet screens.
The blue light from the sun provides multiple benefits, including regulating your circadian rhythm, or your body’s natural clock, boosting memory and alertness, and elevating your mood. Sunlight is also crucial for the health of your eyes and vision in children.
While natural blue light may be beneficial during the day, the explosion in the number of artificial sources is a whole other story. Excessive blue light exposure can be disruptive to your health and even potentially harmful.
Consider these concerning statistics...
- Adults spend approximately 11 hours, or nearly half of their day, interacting with a digital screen.
- Almost half of the population spends five or more hours using their smartphones.
- More than three-fourths of teens – 84% – average seven hours of cellphone use per day.
- Over half of U.S. children – 53% – now own a smart phone by age 11 and use it more than four hours daily.
Here’s the problem with all this blue light exposure – our eyes aren’t made for it. They’re deficient at blocking blue light, so nearly all of the blue light you take in passes through the front of your eye to the retina at the back of your eye.
The blue LED light in digital screens and artificial lighting can be especially risky if you’re exposed to it after sunset or before sunrise. At these times it can disrupt your natural body rhythms and inhibit the production of melatonin, your sleep hormone.
Why Blue Light Affects Your Eyes and Vision
LEDs affect your eyes by two mechanisms. One is flicker and the other is the spectrum of light they produce – blue light.
Unlike ultraviolet or UV light, blue light penetrates deep into your eye and directly impacts the cells in your retina, which convert light for your brain to process.
Eye doctors are increasingly seeing a condition called computer vision syndrome (CVS) in both adults and children. This condition is characterized by eye strain, headaches, burning and tired eyes as well as fatigue-related discomfort.
People tend to blink less when looking at screens, and this can lead to dry eyes due to the loss of the protective thin layer of liquid on the surface of the eye. This can compound the symptoms of CVS.
High-energy blue light is also thought to contribute to CVS.
When blue light strikes your eye, the effect is almost like that of ultraviolet light on your skin when it produces sunburn. Exposure can lead to the production of free radicals – a process called photooxidation. Photooxidation from blue light exposure is the most common form of damage that can occur in your eye’s retina.
Daily exposure to blue light and the photooxidation that results can cause small, undetectable damage to your retinal cells that accumulate and lead to age-related visual impairment.
A recent study from the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) confirmed that while short-term exposure to blue light has “phototoxic effects,” long-term exposure of blue light accelerates the aging of retinal tissues and is linked to the leading cause of vision loss in adults over 50.
The Dark Side of Blue Light on Your Sleep and Metabolism
For our eyes to detect light, they use three types of photoreceptors. Two of them, rods and cones, create most of our vision. The third type of photoreceptors are called intrinsically photoreceptive retinal ganglion cells, or ipRGCs.
These ipRGCs are highly photosensitive, especially to blue light, and directly communicate with your brain’s circadian clock that controls your sleep and wake cycles.
Before the invention of light bulbs, your circadian rhythm was in close sync with the sun. Today, that’s hardly the case. It’s now well-documented that artificial light and digital screens disturb natural body rhythms that influence your physical, mental and behavioral well-being.
To understand the amount of light that can come from a digital screen when used at night, consider a laptop computer. Not including any additional light from a cell phone or TV screen in the same room, the amount of light emitted by a single laptop is 33,000% greater than the intensity of light from a full moon.
Exposure to blue light in the evening disturbs your sleep by inhibiting your body’s production of your sleep hormone, melatonin. In fact, studies show a link between light exposure at night and a reduction in both sleep quality and daytime alertness as well as mood.
Mood concerns are becoming increasingly common among adolescents and young adults. Over a nine-year period, there was a 37% increase in reported mood issues.
While poor diet and lack of exercise may be at least partly to blame for this alarming increase in these groups, so is the increased use of electronics and social media.
But that’s not all... Disruption to your circadian rhythm can aggravate metabolic health concerns, too.
As a powerful suppressor of melatonin, high-energy blue light can affect your metabolism and appetite.
In a recent study, researchers adjusted participants’ schedules to gradually shift the timing of their circadian rhythms. The slightest alterations led to increased blood sugar levels and decreased levels of leptin, the hormone that tells you you’re full after a meal.
Is Blue Light Making Your Brain Age Faster?
There’s no question LEDs and excessive blue light exposure interfere with normal sleep cycles. What else could they be doing to your brain?
Studies on flies and worms suggest blue-light exposure increases the production of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) and shortens lifespan of cells.
One study group was kept in blue LED light for 12 hours, and then 12 hours of darkness. This variable had a dramatic effect on actual lifespan – a reduction of about 10%.
What surprised researchers most in the fly study was that light caused not only damage to the eye’s retina but also degeneration of cells in the central nervous system, including the brain.
Clearly, blue light sends mixed messages to your brain. While blue light can be used to stimulate your brain, a human study shows that excessive blue light from digital devices can alter specific cells in your retina and cause damage.
Research data also suggests that susceptibility to light increases with age and repeated exposure to blue light turns on the expression of stress-response genes.
At any age, stress can cause changes in your brain chemistry, such as an increase in stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can interfere with cognition.
However, stress also decreases a substance called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF – a neuroprotective protein and member of a family of growth factors in the brain.
BDNF provides support to the neurons of your central nervous system, and is active in the areas of the brain vital to learning, memory and thinking. Levels of BDNF increase until around age 65 and then decrease substantially.
Stopping the Damaging Effects of High-Energy Blue Light
The best way to avoid the adverse effects of blue light is to minimize your exposure, especially after sunset or before sunrise. I suggest replacing your regular LED lights with flicker-free red LED light bulbs in rooms that you will use after sunset, like your bedroom. Alternatively, you could use blue light blocking glasses to filter the blue light.
The damaging effects of blue light is a cumulative, on-going process and occurs when your eyes don’t have enough antioxidants for adequate protection.
The most critical nutrients for protecting your retina from the effects of photooxidation are three carotenoid antioxidants that are naturally found in your eyes.
Carotenoids are organic pigments produced by plants and algae. Yellow-red in color, they absorb wavelengths of light in the 400 to 550 nm range, including blue light.
Of the more than 700 carotenoids found in nature, only three – lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and RR-zeaxanthin – are found in your eye, where they act as protective antioxidants and potent filters of high-energy blue light.
All three carotenoids are highly concentrated in your macula, the small area in the center of your retina responsible for your vision and the area most susceptible to photooxidative damage. That’s why they’re often called the “macula carotenoids.”
Macular Carotenoids: Your Eyes’ First Line of Defense Against Excessive Light Exposure
Known as the macular pigment, the concentrated area of lutein and zeaxanthin in your macula acts as “internal sunglasses” to protect against potentially harmful blue light from artificial light and digital screens.
Your macular pigment determines how well you see at night when driving and provides protection against the harmful effects of computer and screen usage.
Research shows that the denser your macular pigment, the stronger your resistance to blue light and the lower your risk of developing eye issues. Greater pigment density is linked to optimal vision, including night vision.
The highest concentration of lutein in your eye is in your macula lutea - the tiny central part of your retina responsible for detailed central vision. Lutein is also found in the lens.
Zeaxanthin is the strongest antioxidant naturally present in your retina. Once it reaches your eye, zeaxanthin moves into several tissues, including your lens and macula, to support their normal functions.*
Lutein and zeaxanthin support eye health two primary ways:
- Absorb excess light to help prevent damage from blue light*
- Quench free-radicals before they damage the lipid membranes*
These macular carotenoids readily pass into the oxygen-rich retina, where they reduce the number of damaging free radicals.*
Maintaining adequate levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the macula pigment in your eyes provides powerful support against the harmful effects of blue light.*
And now, researchers are learning that because your eyes are an extension of your brain, these macular carotenoids may be just as important for your brain health.*
How Lutein and Zeaxanthin Support Cognitive Health*
Lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and RR-zeaxanthin also make up three-fourths of the carotenoids in your brain – specifically the areas responsible for cognitive function, data-processing and recall.
These three macular carotenoids cross the blood brain barrier and deposit into the areas of your brain that play roles in visual processing and cognition:
- Frontal cortex for language production, memory access and executive function
- Hippocampus for long-term memory
- Auditory cortex for hearing, language comprehension and multisensory association
- Occipital cortex for visual processing
Embedded in the membranes of your brain cells, lutein supports your brain’s structure and function, providing lifelong benefits to brain health.*
Researchers have found that the amount of lutein and both zeaxanthins in the macula of the eye is linked to cognitive function in healthy older adults.*
Indeed, cognitively normal adults aged 80 to 100 years have been found to have higher levels of macular carotenoids in their brains.
Remember when we previously talked about BDNF, the protective protein in your brain? Lutein and Zeaxanthin supports healthy levels of BDNF and the brain’s ability to form new neural connections, or neuroplasticity.*
How to Get the Macular Carotenoids You Need for Vision and Cognitive Support
Lutein and zeaxanthin are clearly essential “lifestyle” nutrients, as your body can’t make them. You must get them from food or a supplement.
You can find lutein and zeaxanthin in egg yolks, avocados, kale, spinach, broccoli and green, red and yellow peppers. To maximize their nutritional value, I recommend eating these foods raw as the nutrients are easily damaged by heat.
Unfortunately, many people do not get enough lutein or zeaxanthin simply because they eat too few servings of vegetables. Even if you do get enough from your diet, the amounts may be too low for optimal protection against blue light.
The average lutein intake for adults is 1.8 mg, but the ideal intake is 6 mg for healthy populations and between 10 and 40 mg for those individuals with sub-optimal eye health.
Studies show an increase in dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with greater macular pigment density in healthy adults, thus providing better protection.*
A lutein and zeaxanthin supplement can help you get the amounts you need for optimal eye health. In fact, studies suggest you may absorb more from a supplement.*
A recent scientific review found people who took 10 mg or 20 mg of lutein per day had greater macular pigment optical density (MPOD), and better visual acuity and contrast sensitivity than those who did not supplement.*
However, for optimal protection and support for your macular pigment, you need adequate amounts of not just lutein, but also both forms of zeaxanthin.*
Long-term supplementation of lutein, along with both isomers of zeaxanthin, has been shown to support eye and macula health in healthy individuals in multiple ways:
- Promote healthy eye function*
- Help maintain macular and retinal health*
- Help protect the macula*
- Help maintain normal macular pigment optical density (MPOD)*
- Help keep eyes healthy as you age*
Supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin benefits more than just your eyes. As we’ve seen, it can support your cognitive function, enhance sleep quality and even help manage stress.*
Our Naturally-Derived Marigold Extract Provides All Three Macular Carotenoids
Lutein with Zeaxanthin is one of the few researched-backed lutein supplements available today that provides all three macular carotenoids naturally sourced from marigold flower extract.
This complete macular carotenoid formula contains lutein and both zeaxanthin isomers in a balanced 5:1 ratio – the same ratio found naturally in the diet.
With significantly higher levels of the zeaxanthin isomers meso-zeaxanthin and RR-zeaxanthin than other lutein supplements, Lutein with Zeaxanthin provides a unique approach to vision and cognitive health.*
Lutein with Zeaxanthin provides the additional macular carotenoids you need to promote healthy eye and brain function and to help protect eyes against harmful visible and high-energy blue light.*
The Lutein and Zeaxanthin from Marigold Flower Extract used in Lutein with Zeaxanthin have been shown in studies to:
- Help protect your eyes and brain against harmful visible and high-energy blue light.*
- Maintain optimal macular pigment density.*
- Promote sleep quality.*
- Support healthy levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), the neuroprotective protein important for learning and cognition.*
- Provide support against eye strain and fatigue as well as associated headache frequency.*
- Support visual performance, including visual function, contrast sensitivity, glare performance and photo-stress recovery.*
- Support your vision in dim light.*
Help Protect Your Vision and Cognition With Lutein with Zeaxanthin
If you’re a baby boomer or senior, chances are you’re thinking ahead and want to do all you can now to help ensure your enjoyment of life and independence in your later years.
And if you’re in the prime of your life, you know you need all the support you can get for maintaining peak performance in the face of lack of sleep, hectic schedules and stressful lifestyles.
All of these things require healthy eyesight and optimal cognition – and the supportive nutrients that help protect them.*
Lutein with Zeaxanthin can help you achieve both by supporting your macular pigment and providing protection against the damaging effects of high-energy blue light.*
Put these lifestyle nutrients to work for you by giving your eyes and brain the break they need from a demanding world, and order Lutein with Zeaxanthin today.