How Can I Protect My Vision As I Get Older?

It's hard to make some pretty in-depth science sound interesting or amusing at the best of times, but when words like “Meso-zeaxanthin” are being used, I prefer to make a clever anagram and move on. So with MOTH IN A SEX ZONE – (cheers for the Z and X!!) we should wander off.

Only, we really shouldn't because meso-zeoxanthin might just be one of the sexiest discoveries of this new millennium, and not just to moths. Read on to find out why...

Now for the science bit, I'll try and keep it simple. The very centre of the back of the eye – the bit that really sees all the very fine detail – that's called the macula. When you look at stuff, only a very small area in the centre of your vision is in high definition, and to achieve this there's literally millions of little receptors that give us the highest definition possible.

Now when light enters the eye, especially sunlight, there's all the colours of the rainbow dancing around. The shortest wavelength of visible light is in the blue spectrum, and this blue light is highest in energy, and can damage the very sensitive receptors at the macula (they're called cones). Over the course of a lifetime a lot of blue light will be entering your eyes as you wander about your daily business, and over time the damage can become so bad that we lose the ability to see at all in that important central macula area – this condition is known as age-related macula degeneration (AMD for short). As you can imagine, it can be devastating.

If you wear spectacles, carefully stick a round dot, or use a black marker to block out the very central bit of your vision. Now imagine walking around like that every day – that's what people with advanced AMD have to do, and it's not much fun!

So how do we stop this nasty blue light damaging all our lovely cones and allow us to see clearly? Well, nature in its wisdom gave us a few plant extracts that when consumed, collect at the macula and these extracts have the happy effect of giving us a yellow pigmented layer there. The yellow pigment absorbs all that nasty blue light, thus preventing damage to the macula, and preserving our HD central vision – HOORAY!!

Therefore, all we have to do is eat the right plant extracts and the job is sorted!

Only these plant pigment extracts – sexily named macular carotenoids (A CAD'S RUM RELOCATION) are not so easy to get from a good diet. The other two are called lutein, which can be found in some green veg, and zeaxanthin (without the meso bit). They can be harvested from the flowers of marigolds (the plants, not the gloves), and so the easiest, and most effective way to take them is by a dietary supplement.

Only, there's loads of different dietary supplements on the market for eyes, not to mention just about every other part of the body, so which one should we choose?

Well, about 8 years ago some very clever people in Ireland made a formulation which contains Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-zeaxanthin, and they even more cleverly made sure they had a patent on it. So the only way you can guarantee to get all these wonderful macular carotenoids into you in the right amounts is by taking their supplement.


We can supply you with Macushield at a cost of roughly 45p per day – that's not a lot to keep your HD vision safe from that blue light. I know that since I went to a lecture given by the excellent Professor John Nolan at the beginning of October 2014, I have started taking them, and have encouraged all my family to follow suit.

You know what else blue light causes? Glare! So when you're driving along the road at night and the headlights coming towards you are intolerable, it's the blue light that causes that glare. Taking macular carotenoids will reduce it!

Oh, and one tantalising thought – the next big clinical trial is going to be to see if these macular carotenoids can prevent people from getting Alzheimer's disease, or to arrest it in those who have early stages of the disease, as these 3 compounds are also missing from the brains of people afflicted with Alzheimer's. It will be years before we know about that, and there's no guarantee of a positive result, but it makes you think...or does it?