Sunlight and lack of antioxidants increases risk of age-related eye disease

It is generally accepted among health providers that sunlight, blue light in the visible spectrum, are contributing factors to the development of macular degeneration – and use of wrap around sunglasses, amber in color, is the foremost recommendation for macular degeneration patients.

Researchers have further determined that blue light entering the eye combined with low levels of blood antioxidants heightens the risk. They measured vitamin E & C levels in the blood of over 4,700 elderly patients (average age 73 years), took pictures of their retinas, and reviewed questionnaires they had filled out including sun exposure.

The researchers found that 2% of the patients had advanced macular degeneration, and half had early AMD. They also found that the patients who had exposure to sunlight (including blue light) alone were not more likely to develop AMD, but those who had both blue light exposure and low levels of antioxidants (zeaxanthin, vitamin E, and vitamin C) were 3.7 time as likely to develop advanced macular degeneration.

The researchers’ conclusion was that both sunglasses protection and key antioxidants in the diet is necessary to prevent macular degeneration.

Editor’s Note:  We recommend amber tinted sunglasses, which most effectively block blue light and which are also UV resistant.  Wrap around glasses are best.


1. Nutrition, Sensory on Thu October 16, 2008

2. Fletcher AE, Bentham GC, Agnew M.Sunlight Exposure, Antioxidants, and Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126:1396-1403.

Researchers: Astrid E. Fletcher, PhD, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and associates.

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