Cut Glare Naturally!

In everyday life, glare from the setting sun while you drive or off of a reflective surface can be a nuisance and sometimes even dangerous; when too intense glare can cause a temporary loss of vision. Glare can also be encountered during such normal activities as being outdoors gardening and golfing. Glare can cause a difficulty in clearly seeing your surroundings. Contours and contrast may seem to disappear from glare. Instead of seeing a distinction between objects and their background, problems with glare can cause the sensation of looking at a white wall of light. This can create a dangerous situation when driving, especially when a person is unable to see a pedestrian in the crosswalk, the colour of a traffic light, or even another vehicle.

Glare sensitivity

However, glare sensitivity can make these minor occurrences of glare much more difficult to handle. Glare sensitivity can be very debilitating as it can cause a decrease in vision while causing pain and discomfort in the eyes. There are numerous sources of glare in everyday life, which could make routine tasks difficult for those with glare sensitivity. Common causes of glare include:

  • Direct sunlight
  • Reflection of sunlight off of smooth surfaces, including other vehicles
  • Overhead lights, especially fluorescent lights in office settings
  • Headlights from oncoming automobiles
  • Light from computer monitors

Glare sensitivity can be caused by various circumstances. Common factors associated with glare sensitivity include:

  • Over-exposure to ultraviolet rays
  • Light-coloured eyes with enlarged pupils

So how do we cut glare naturally? Read on…

Macular pigments – lutein and zeaxanthin

The human macular pigments – lutein and zeaxanthin which are most commonly linked to protection from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), were found to reduce the deleterious effects of glare on a test group of people with normal eyesight, report researchers in the journal Optometry and Vision Science.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful, natural antioxidants that protect the eye by absorbing damaging blue light and reducing glare. Blue light can cause harmful oxidative stress in the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin protects cells and membranes by reducing harmful free radicals.

Cataract defined

The lens, which focuses light rays into the retina, is supposed to be transparent. When the lenses become opaque, the opaque areas are called cataracts. Cataracts are the leading cause of impaired vision and blindness worldwide, affecting up to 40% of people over 75. They are most often caused by overexposure to the intense light (sunlight) but other factors can contribute to them: cigarette smoking, hereditary, injury, diabetes and some medications. Cataracts usually develop slowly, starting with blurred vision, spots, and the impression that a film is covering the eyes.

Lutein and zeaxanthin distribution in eye

Lutein and zeaxanthin are natural yellow-pigmented nutrients belonging to the carotenoid family. Carotenoids are the red, yellow, and orange pigments found in yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, dark green, leafy vegetables and corn.

Of the more than 600 plant pigments called carotenoids found in nature, only two carotenoids: zeaxanthin and lutein selectively accumulates in the retina, macular and lens. Zeaxanthin is the dominant component in the center of the macular, while lutein dominates at the outer edges. The eye is selective and preferentially places dietary zeaxanthin in the very center of the macular, the most critical area for central vision with the greatest need for protection.

Studies supporting lutein and zeaxanthin in reducing glare

Daily supplementation with 2 mg of zeaxanthin and 10 mg of lutein resulted in an increase in the macular pigment optical density (MPOD) after as early as two months and continued to increase over six months. This increase in MPOD was then directly related to improvements in glare disability and photo stress recovery times.

Supplemented subjects could tolerate 58% more intense glaring light before losing their ability to detect a central target. They also had, on average, 14% faster recovery to photo stress. Macular Pigment and Visual Performance Under Glare Conditions. Optom Vis Sci 2008; 85:82-88

Another study showed that long-term supplementation with zeaxanthin protects the photoreceptors of the retina against light-induced damage. Thompson LR, Toyoda Y, Delori FC, et al. Long term dietary supplementation with zeaxanthin reduces photoreceptor death in lightdamaged Japanese quail. Exp Eye Res 2002; 75:529-542.

Supplement shopping

Two things to ensure when buying a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement:

  1. Standardized marigold flower (Tagates erecta) containing minimum 15% Lutein esters and 40% Zeaxanthin is used to ensure every capsule contains the exact amount of active ingredients – lutein and zeaxanthin as stated on the label.
    Unlike common herbal products with non-standardized herbal extracts, standardized marigold flower extract delivers GUARANTEED POTENCY for better efficacy.
  2. Concentrated lutein and zeaxanthin is used
    Ensure the eye supplement contains at least 6mg but preferably 10mg of standardized lutein. Many Lutein and Zeaxanthin supplements contain only very small amounts of Zeaxanthin – in the micrograms (mcg) whereas studies have found that zeaxanthin is beneficial only when their amounts are much higher e.g. at least 5mg daily.

For convenience of dosing, it would make good sense to look for a 2-in-1 eye health formula with concentrated lutein and zeaxanthin to protect eyes from the damaging effects of blue lights and UV rays to keep glare as well as age-related macular degeneration and cataract at bay whilst promoting sharper vision and healthier eyes.