In order to protect your eyes during the hot and sunny seasons of spring and summer, it is important to be extra cautious about ultraviolet (UV) rays. Of the three leading causes of blindness for middle-aged individuals (macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma), macular degeneration and cataracts are particularly influenced by UV radiation.
If UV rays penetrate through the eye’s inner lens to reach the retina, inflammation or cell damage may occur, leading to the acceleration of the aging process of the eyes. Since UV radiation is a primary risk factor for eye health, it is essential to wear sunglasses and consume nutrients that are beneficial for your eyes.
The macula is a region in the eye that contains photoreceptor cells that are responsible for vision. If abnormalities occur in this area, visual acuity is primarily affected. Although macular degeneration may initially seem insignificant, it can lead to blindness, making it a severe condition to watch out for. If objects appear distorted or dark spots appear, this may indicate the onset of macular degeneration. To prevent this condition, it is important to pay attention to lutein and zeaxanthin, which are also known as macular pigments.
These pigments act as filters that block harmful light such as UV and blue light, and help maintain the function of the macula by reducing age-related damage. The problem is that the amount of macular pigment decreases as one ages. Therefore, it is necessary to supplement the body with lutein and zeaxanthin through diet or supplements after the age of 50. Especially during the summer months, when UV-induced damage to the macula is more likely, it is recommended to consume these nutrients regularly.
Cataracts are a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes opaque, causing vision to become blurry. While it is common for cataracts to occur after the age of 60, the number of patients in their 40s and 50s has increased significantly in recent years due to the increased usage of digital devices such as smartphones.
According to the National Health Insurance Service, the number of cataract patients in their 40s and 50s has increased by over 20% in the past three years. The problem is that the initial symptoms of cataracts are similar to presbyopia, so many people underestimate its severity. If left untreated, cataracts will become more difficult to treat with surgery and may result in complications such as glaucoma.
Regular checkups and management are necessary. Lutein and zeaxanthin, also known as macular pigments, are effective in preventing cataracts as well. They act as antioxidants that protect the lens from harmful light and eliminate free radicals. According to the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 conducted by the National Eye Institute in the United States, supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins C and E can effectively prevent or slow the progression of cataracts.