Blue Light: The Visible Danger

By Stephen Cohen, O.D.

Over the past decade, our lives have been transformed due to smart phones, tablets and other handheld devices. These devices are backlit by LED light. Also, legislation has been implemented that require that incandescent light bulbs be replaced by more energy efficient LED bulbs. Unfortunately, this change in technology has come with a price tag: these devices emit high levels of “blue light.”

Think about the colors of the rainbow. On the spectrum, blue light is right next to ultraviolet radiation (UV). We know that UV (which we cannot see) can be damaging to our skin and to our eyes. Its neighbor, blue light, has been found to cause numerous problems in higher and extended doses.

Although the sun is the major source of all wavelengths of light, including blue light, we have experienced a tremendous increase in blue light exposure in other settings, such as in our office, on our laptop and even in our beds when we tend to use our smart phones and tablets before going to sleep.

Here are some of the challenges we now face. Blue light suppresses melatonin, which helps us fall asleep. Using a smart phone in bed for a short time in anticipation of sleep actually wakes us up. Apple, for example, has come up with an adjustment to turn down the blue light at night in an attempt to counteract this problem for its iPhone users. Blue light also causes significant eyestrain. This can affect visual comfort, moods and behavior, whether for adults in an office, or, more significantly, for children in a classroom.

Blue light (which has been found to penetrate deeper into our eyes) has been implicated as a contributing factor to developing Macular Degeneration later in life. Protecting your eyes now will not only help to improve your quality of life today, it can also help in the future. There are now coatings that can be applied to lens surfaces of eyeglasses that block UV, glare, and blue light. This can enhance clarity (since the “blue” end of the visible spectrum tends to be more distorting), reduce strain and protect your eyes. Special filters on computer/tablet screens can reduce blue light exposure. Using the adjustment settings on your smart phone can also reduce exposure to higher levels of blue light.

We are familiar with the term “unintended consequences,” where some advances in technology provides benefits but can also cause unanticipated challenges. Such is the case with lighting changes that were made for environmental benefits, as well as digital device technology. So, while we help to protect our environment, let’s protect our eye health and visual comfort as well.

Photo credit: via / CC BY-SA

Center For Medicaid and Medicare Services Extends Marketplace Open Enrollment Deadline to Dec. 18

After technical issues prevented some consumers from accessing the website on the final day of open enrollment for 2020 Marketplace insurance coverage, the Center For Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) made the decision to extend the enrollment deadline, and issued the following statement:

“CMS’s primary goal is to provide a seamless Open Enrollment experience for consumers and ensure that those Americans who want coverage offered through the Exchange can enroll in a plan. In an abundance of caution, to accommodate consumers who attempted to enroll in coverage during the final hours of Open Enrollment but who may have experienced issues, starting at 3:00PM EST today, December 16 we are extending the deadline to sign up for January 1 coverage until 3:00AM EST December 18. This additional time will give consumers the opportunity to come back and complete their enrollment for January 1 coverage. While the website and the call center remained open for business on December 15 with over half a million consumers enrolling throughout the day, some consumers were asked to leave their name at the call center.  Those consumers who have already left their contact information at the call center do not need to come back and apply during this extension because a call center representative will follow up with them later this week.”

World Hunger on the Rise — Causes, Consequences and Solutions

A map of all the countries Feed My Starving Children has partners in and is sending food to. The black dot on the far right is the country the volunteers were packing for at the facility in Mesa, Arizona, when the reporter visited. Photo: Jeff Rosenfield

—By Jeff Rosenfield

From 2005 to 2015, world hunger was decreasing, but it is once again on the rise.

Over two billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, and in the past three years the number of people suffering from hunger has slowly increased, according to 2019 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SFSNW) report.

This report was authored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization.

The report measured the percentage of undernourished people in the world to represent global hunger. Undernourished people may have access to food that is not nutrient-rich.

While hunger is a physical discomfort due to not eating food for a time, undernutrition is a condition resulting from lack of necessary nutrients, usually obtained from food, according to World Hunger Education.

Hunger and undernutrition are results of food insecurity, when one has limited or unreliable access to healthy and nutritious foods.

“About two billion people in the world experience moderate to severe food insecurity,” according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

“The lack of regular access to nutritious and sufficient food that these people experience puts them at greater risk of malnutrition and poor health,” according to the 2019 SFSNW report, in which maternal and child undernutrition reportedly contributed to 45 percent of deaths in children under 5 years old.

“These nutrient deficiencies lead to a lack of function,” registered dietitian and lecturer for the Nutrition Program at the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University (ASU), Jessica Lehmann said.

The immune system can be suppressed if the “body doesn’t have enough protein to build antibodies,” Lehmann said.

Some examples of vital nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, fats and water.

“If there’s not enough protein and not enough calories, then the body starts basically cannibalizing itself and its own proteins, in order to create enough energy to live,” Lehmann said.

The body will start by consuming the glycogen — or stored carbohydrates — and will ultimately consume its own skeletal muscles, Lehmann said.

Some other vital nutrients are vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin E, iron and zinc.

Vitamin A deficiency can result in blindness in children, according to Christy Alexon, a clinical associate professor at the College of Health Solutions at ASU.

“It’s completely heartbreaking,” Alexon said about the “number one preventable cause of childhood blindness.”

Vitamin A deficiency is preventable because there is enough nutritional food in the world.

According to Concern Worldwide U.S., Inc., “the world produces enough food to feed all 7.5 billion people.”

“Despite this, 1 in 9 people around the world go hungry each day,” according to Concern Worldwide U.S., a statistic confirmed in the 2019 SFSNW report.

“If you want to talk about why people are hungry, a lot of it is access to food,” Lehmann said.

Time and money are scarce, and people will often choose the cheaper meal, even if it is lacking nutrients, Lehmann said.

“Poverty is a huge reason,” Lehmann said.

In countries with greater income inequality, people with lower incomes spend a larger percentage of their income on food, according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

While enough food is produced worldwide, it is not readily available worldwide. As such, countries need to find a way to secure their own food source.

Countries lacking the necessary land and water resources to produce crops are forced to import, Mark Manfredo, a director and professor at the Morrison School of Agribusiness at the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU, said.

Even if a country can afford importing food, it may not be able to afford importing nutritious food, which is typically more expensive.

Any nutritious food that is imported will be more expensive than non-nutritious foods in the domestic markets, according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

A country that produces its own food is not necessarily better off, either.

Prices may fluctuate due to weather and natural disasters destroying crops. Food safety scares can also create a lot of volatility, Manfredo said.

Additionally, poorer countries have fewer incentives to offer farmers to increase production, Clifford Shultz, a professor at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University, said.

Cambodia, as a previously communist country, used a model that “didn’t have incentives for farmers so they underperformed,” Shultz said.

Underperforming farmers hurt the economy, which also undermines efforts to end hunger and malnutrition, according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

“After they switched to a more market-oriented economies they were able to produce more food,” Shultz said.

Still, some countries have underperforming economies.

“In 2018, more than 96 million people in 33 countries suffering from acute food insecurity lived in places where economy had rising unemployment, lack of regular work, currency depreciation and high food prices,” according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

Another reason people have unequal access to food is war and violence.

Food waste and insecurity are greatly increased in times of war and violence.

“Food is a weapon,” Shultz said.

In war, “One of the first things you do is cut off the supply chain of your adversary,” Shultz said.

Destroying food supply chains causes crop failure and reduces the supply of food, and when the demand remains the same or increases, the result is an increase in food prices.

For example, South Sudan’s civil war has led to mass displacement and abandoned fields, resulting in crop failure. Combined with a soaring inflation rate, imported foods are unaffordable, leaving six million people food-insecure, according to Concern Worldwide U.S.

Many countries with food insecurity also face an increasing number of overweight people. This is not a result of well-nourished people overindulging.

“The most recent data show that obesity is contributing to 4 million deaths globally and is increasing the risk of morbidity for people in all age groups,” according to the 2019 SFSNW report.

“People are growing up and they’re just not sure where their next meal is coming from,” Lehmann said.

“It can create a very real need to make sure that someone has extra calories,” Lehmann said.

“Whenever food does appear they’re going to be much more likely to get as much as possible because they don’t know when their next meal is gonna arrive or be there,” Lehmann said.

Whether or not this food is nutritious is of little concern to the hungry person.

Countries around the world are food insecure and suffer from undernutrition, even though the world produces enough food to feed them all.

So, where does the excess food go?

It is wasted.

“Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted,” according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United States.

That is the equivalent of roughly 680 billion United States dollars being wasted annually.

“Food waste occurs at all points of the supply chain,” Manfredo said.

“Researchers and scientists and economists are all trying to address this problem,” he continued.

“There is a lot of agricultural investment right now, in new technologies, in land, in infrastructures and equipment, all of this to create more efficiency in food production.”

One example Manfredo gave was investments in robotics. Having a robot that can remove weeds from a farmer’s field could potentially remove the need for spraying chemicals and herbicides.

Another example was using data analytics to build models and predict how much fertilizer is needed for a field.

However, as Manfredo said earlier, “Food waste occurs at all points of the supply chain.”

Manfredo said waste occurs in fresh produce, in particular, as produce is not put on the market if it does not meet industry standards.

“Maybe it’s bruised or imperfect,” Manfredo said, “That’s the word they often use is imperfect.”

Imperfect Foods is a Public Benefit Corporation that sells groceries online and delivers them.

Imperfect Foods lists several reasons why a product may be classified as imperfect, including a product not being visually appealing or being outside the size parameter given by the buyer.

Usually, imperfect foods in the United States are discarded before they reach the market, not because they are unsafe to eat, but because they are significantly less marketable, meaning they are less likely to be bought by customers.

“People are demanding higher quality food,” Manfredo said.

Americans are particularly picky eaters, as Brian Hetzer from Feed My Starving Children, (FMSC) discovered.

FMSC has tried sending their Manapack bags to the Red Cross for disaster relief, such as hurricanes and flooding.

“The bottom line is most people in the U.S. won’t eat this,” Hetzer said.

Most people in the U.S. are used to high-quality food that tastes better.

In the U.S., “More times than not, the food ends up going to waste,” Hetzer said.

Because U.S. citizens are so particular, vendors must be very cautious about only using marketable foods.

Just because U.S. citizens do not want to eat imperfect food, does not mean hungry people around the world will not. So why is this excess food thrown away instead of being sent to those who need it?

Because it is cheaper.

“Getting it into the hands of someone to eat it isn’t free,” Harold McClarty, the owner of HMC Farms, said in a video clip used in the episode Food Waste (12:53) of “Last Week Tonight.”

“It’s a lot easier and cheaper to just throw it away,” McClarty said.

This behavior is not unique to the United States; it is practiced throughout the world.

Every year, consumers in rich countries waste about 222 million tonnes of food, according to the FAO.

Though much of the world’s food goes to waste, there are many organizations actively sending food and supplies to people in need.

Feed My Starving Children is one of these organizations.

They send Manapack rice to various countries in need.

“We pack 1 million meals a week,” Hetzer said, adding “there is still tremendous need.”

Feed My Starving Children has partner organizations around the globe in over 50 countries.

“There are other organizations that are willing to partner with us that we have to say no to because we can’t pack enough food to meet the additional need,” Hetzer said.

Moving food around the world is expensive, but FMSC does not charge its partner organizations for the food. They only pay for the shipping, Hetzer said.

Currently, FMSC cannot accept additional food partners because it does not have the money to purchase more food, beyond its commitments to its current partners.

FMSC said 999,110 children are fed each year because of volunteers and donors. The solution to world hunger is neither inexpensive nor easy, but it is more than a lack of food and resources.

The “problem is really one more of will rather than a lack of technology or resources,” Shultz said.

Jeff Rosenfield is a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Arizona Responds to Maternal Mortality Rates

—By Jeff Rosenfield

UA College of Medicine-Phoenix held an event last night to address the rising maternal mortality rates in the United States and how Arizona is combating the crisis.

Dr. Kendra Gray poses for a photo before giving a presentation on maternal mortality rates in the United States and how Arizona is combating it. Gray gave her presentation at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Education Building in Phoenix, Arizona, Dec. 4. Photo: Jeff Rosenfield

Dr. Kendra Gray, a clinical instructor and maternal fetal medicine fellow of the UA College of Obstetrics and Gynecology discuss the trends in maternal mortality and what can be done about it. 

“In the United States there’s an estimated 700 women a year who will die from pregnancy or birth related causes,” Gray said. “That number is absolutely crazy to me.”

Every one of those numbers is a person, is a mom. Heart disease and stroke cause one in three deaths, she said.

Other causes of death during pregnancy can include hemorrhage, infection, blood clots in the lungs, anesthetic complications, cardiomyopathy, substance abuse and obesity, she said.

“More than 80 percent of all maternal deaths in Arizona are believed to have been preventable. Not all of them are preventable, but 80 percent is really, really high and so we have to figure out what we can do to fix that,” she said.

Gray cited findings by the CDC, including roughly one-third maternal mortalities happen while pregnant, one-third occur within one week of delivery and one-third occur within a year after delivery.

“There has been no improvement [of the U.S. maternal mortality rate] in roughly 25 years,” she said. “We’re still doing worse than many of our comparative first-world countries.”

According to Gray, Arizona has made some positive changes.

Arizona is one of nine states to receive $2.1 million grant per year for five years from the Health Resources and Services Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that will be used to collect more data in a “more timely fashion,” Gray said.

Gov. Doug Ducey established an advisory committee to combat maternal mortality, in April.

The 13-member advisory committee provides recommendations for enhancing data collection and reporting on maternal mortality, according to a press release.

“We’re one of 25 states to receive an award for $450,000 per year, for a five-year period from the CDC, related to preventing maternal deaths,” Gray said. “We’ve had Medicaid expansion, we report our maternal mortality rate by race.”

The state of Arizona has been cited in multiple American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists practice bulletins and is being looked at as a model for other states to start to mimic some of what we’re doing, Gray said.

According to Gray, Arizona decided to join the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health, which provides packages with “checklists” on how to manage various hypertensive disorders and emergencies systematically in hospitals.

“In the states that these bundles have been tried out in, the mortality and morbidity have decreased dramatically,” Gray said.

The University of Arizona and Banner University also run many simulations of medical emergencies, including maternal mortality related issues, so future nurses and doctors will be prepared, Gray said.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists American also has its own initiatives to reduce maternal mortality rates, including optimizing postpartum, designating levels of maternal care and advocating more for maternal mortality, Gray said.

Dr. Shirley Savai specializes in Gynecology and Maternal and Fetal Medicine, and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Banner Health.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Savai said. “Compared to European women, our women get twice as many chronic illnesses during pregnancies.” 

Bryce Munter, a third-year medical student at the college and audience member, said she knew maternal mortality was a problem, but she did not know the severity of it.

Philip Maykowski, a third-year medical student at the college and audience member, said Gray’s lecture reinforced how behind we are on maternal mortality, in terms of understanding and preventing it, and that one can focus on it more when going into training.

“We need to give better care to women in general in our country, in particular reproductive age women,” Gray said. “Losing just one mom at all is really, really devastating.”

Jeff Rosenfield is a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Work Off Thanksgiving Dinner the Day After — Mountainside Fitness members’ guests work out for free Thanksgiving weekend

Arizona’s largest locally owned fitness center, Mountainside Fitness has 17 locations across the Valley including Chandler, Desert Ridge, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Peoria, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, Tempe and Surprise, with three additional Valley locations scheduled to open in 2020.

Mountainside Fitness says that it aims to help each one of their customers reach their fitness goals by offering a wide range of amenities. Each location has top-of-the-line equipment, state-of-the-art childcare, full-service locker rooms and free towel service.

There are also more than 80 group fitness classes to attend like Zumba, High Fitness, cycling with a live DJ, Flow Yoga, Step, H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training) and many more.

“We are offering four days of free workouts to our members’ guests as a way to say thank you and share good health with everyone this holiday season. As a family friendly business, we want to encourage our members to bring their holiday visitors or friends this Thanksgiving weekend and enjoy for free all the classes and high-end amenities that Mountainside Fitness has to offer,” said Tom Hatten, CEO and founder of Mountainside Fitness.

For specials and more information on locations, visit

Thanksgiving Do’s and Don’ts from Emergency Physicians

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) urges everyone to be safe this holiday season. A few safety tips will go a long way toward making sure your holiday is safe and fun.

“Preparation, organization and common sense are the most important ingredients in the recipe for a safe and fun Thanksgiving,” said William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “Do your part to make sure you can spend the holiday with friends and loved ones instead of the emergency department. But rest assured that an emergency physician will be there for you anytime an emergency occurs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays.”

Practice safe cooking techniques. Watch temperature levels, read instructions, make sure ovens are functioning properly. Unsafe handling or undercooking food can lead to illness, such as salmonella. Thaw turkey properly before cooking at a minimum of 325 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discourages thawing turkey by leaving it on the countertop, which can cause bacteria growth. If thawing by leaving the turkey in the refrigerator, allow 24 hours for every five pounds of weight. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that leftovers are good for three to four days, if refrigerated. Make sure you wash your hands, cook on a clean surface and avoid cross-contamination with raw meats or other food that requires safe handling.

Supervise children in the kitchen. Accidents happen when kids can grab sharp knives or touch hot pots on the stove. Every day, 300 children are treated in emergency departments for burn-related injuries, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Burns and scalds remain the number one cause of unintentional injury in children ages 0-5.

Don’t leave food cooking unattended, home fires often start in the kitchen. Take your time to avoid slips or falls and reduce the number of safety hazards in crowded areas. Don’t leave candles burning if you are not in the room and don’t light candles near open windows.

Celebrate responsibly. Enjoy the festivities in moderation. Overeating can cause stomach issues or more serious health problems for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes. If alcohol is being served, please do not drink and drive. Thanksgiving is one of the heaviest traffic days of the year. If weather is bad, allow plenty of travel time. Make sure your vehicle has an up-to-date safety kit. And, try to stay calm.

More information about holiday safety is available at

Photo by Photos & Food Blog on / CC BY-NC-SA

Scottsdale Unified School District Launches Vaping Awareness Campaign

The Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) has taken to its social media channels to share information with parents and students about the health dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes to young people’s brains and bodies.

“Vaping is becoming a national epidemic, and we know that many teenagers, and perhaps even parents, do not fully understand the many health risks of using vaping devices,” says Dr. Steven Chestnut, SUSD executive director of Support Services. “Student safety is always our top priority, so it is incumbent upon us to share this still-developing, yet already alarming, information with parents, so they can begin important conversations with their children about our expectation that students be tobacco-free.”

Through its social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor and the District’s website — SUSD kicked off a 60-day public information campaign in October. The messaging contains links to Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resources.

“There are severe consequences for SUSD students who are caught vaping or using e-cigarettes on campus,” says Chestnut, “including required participation in a diversion program, suspension and even expulsion. We also cooperate fully with our local law enforcement partners, adding another level to the consequences.”

Medical research has found that the human brain keeps developing until around the age of 25 and that using nicotine products under that age can harm the part of the brain that is responsible for memory, attention and learning. Despite that, the ADHS reports:

  • Fifty-one percent of Arizona high school students have tried a vaping device.
  • Teens who vape are nearly four times more likely to start smoking cigarettes.
  • More than two times as many Arizona youth vape than smoke cigarettes.

To view the messaging being shared through school and District social media accounts, visit For more information, visit, or contact Student Services office at 480.484.6113, or your child’s school nurse.



The Great American Epidemic

By Stephen Cohen, O.D. —

Although life expectancy is at an all-time high, the current diabetes epidemic is getting much worse, increasing by 27 percent in just the past 10 years. Seventeen million people are diabetic, and about one-third (almost six million) do not know it. Diabetics are at risk for heart disease, kidney disease, loss of a limb and blindness. November has been labeled “Diabetes Awareness Month.”

Every year, as many as 24,000 people go blind as a result of eye damage (diabetic retinopathy) brought on by diabetes. It is estimated that 95 percent of vision loss can be prevented through early detection and treatment. Diabetic retinopathy typically shows no early warning signs. Without timely treatment, there can be fluctuations of vision and changes in your eye prescription, as well as increased chances of developing glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eyes and/or cataracts. Almost 30 percent of diabetics haven’t had an eye exam within the past year, but prevention starts with early detection through a comprehensive eye exam. New technology can potentially pick up changes five to 10 years sooner than they become obvious. Only your eye doctor can fully evaluate your eyes and detect the early signs of retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.

There are several things you can do to decrease the chance of developing diabetic eye disease. A stable A1C level and blood pressure control can reduce the damage to blood vessels in the eye, thereby reducing damage to sensitive ocular structures. As a matter of fact, a stable but mildly higher average A1C level is potentially less damaging that a lower average A1C that fluctuates significantly when it comes to damage to the eyes. Besides the fact that some of the most frightening aspects of diabetes is the potential loss of vision that can be associated, it is also through the eyes that diabetes can be monitored and sometimes identified to begin with. A healthy diet and exercise program are obvious, but underutilized defenses, such as an annual eye exam, needs to be near the top of the list. Remember that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In this case, “an ounce of prevention is worth a lifetime of vision.”

Photo by Nithi clicks on Trend Hype / CC BY

Local Health & Wellness Company Brings Organic Juice and ‘High Vibe’ Foods to New Scottsdale Location — Kaleidoscope Juice Opens Oct. 17

Kaleidoscope Juice announced that it will open its newest outlet at The Shops Gainey Village located at 8977 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale Thursday, Oct. 17. To celebrate the grand opening, guests will receive a free fresh press juice with any purchase Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 20. Plus, samples of other menu items such as avocado toast, smoothies and protein cookies will be offered.

Kaleidoscope is proud to source the best organic ingredients, locally when able, to offer healthy food fast. Locally owned and operated since 2008, Kaleidoscope now has five locations. In addition to this new location, the company has plans for further expansion and will be opening another location in the coming months.

The new sun-filled 1,000 square- foot space at Gainey Village will have a French Moroccan design and feature bar and lounge seating, a large community table and a patio welcoming guests to stay or take their orders to go. A countertop fresh press juice machine will also be a new addition allowing team members to press juices to order throughout the day. The shop will be open daily from 7am to 7pm.

“We are delighted to open this new, beautiful location in the neighborhood where I started the company delivering juices to people’s homes,” said Alexandra Maw, founder and owner of Kaleidoscope Juice. “We believe in the vibrancy of Kaleidoscope and look forward to sharing our passion for healthy, healing foods with the Scottsdale community.”

Kaleidoscope’s mission is to nourish and heal through nutrition. The company shares that its recipes and ingredient combinations are science-based and target specific needs or deficiencies. The 100 percent organic menu features cold press fruit and vegetable juices, shakes, salads, sandwiches, protein and breakfast bowls and gluten-free snacks, including its range of protein cookies. A new smoothie menu was recently launched with 10 drinks including the Keto Meal, Royal Bee and Longevity.

Brook McGregor, co-owner and COO and master’s degree candidate in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine added, “We are excited to expand our menu outside the normal fruit and vegetable combinations. Our new smoothies are [intentionally] crafted providing a myriad of healthy fat compositions, hormone maintenance blends and cognitive support.”

For more information, visit

Reducing the Risk of Macular Degeneration

By Stephen Cohen, O.D. —

Age-related eye conditions will triple in the next 15 years. Macular degeneration alone will account for 50 percent of visual impairment and 20 percent of blindness. It is also estimated that 30 million people are developing cataracts, due to factors such as: increased life expectancy, poor nutrition, ultraviolet (UV) exposure, diabetes, smoking and certain medications. Recently, “blue light” (most commonly emitted by the sun along with all other wavelengths of light, but now found in higher levels indoors due to overhead lighting, computer screens, tables and smart phones) has been labeled as a future cause of macular degeneration.

However, it is now shown that taking specific supplements can reduce macular degeneration by almost 25 percent and cataracts by 15 percent. This could save our healthcare system almost $7.5 billion. Additionally, four separate clinical studies performed in four different countries around the world showed that dietary supplementation can provide better visual acuity after just one year!

The three main components of this supplement are retinal carotenoid” that help with the metabolism in the back of the eye. You may have seen commercials for vitamins that include “lutein for macular health.” Lutein is the main component, which, interestingly, is also found in our brain. As a matter of fact, there has been a relationship established between macular degeneration and cognitive loss, and a belief that a deficiency in lutein may contribute to both problems. Lutein is found in green, leafy vegetables. The second component is zeaxanthin, which is found in orange vegetables, like orange peppers. The third carotenoid, Meso-Zeaxanthin, has only been recently discovered, and in our body is only found in the macula of our eyes. Unfortunately, it is very hard to obtain meso-zeaxanthin in our diets. As a matter of fact, it has been calculated that you would need to eat 220 pounds of fish skin to receive two milligrams of meso-zeaxanthin! No thanks!

There are numerous supplements available that contain one or two of these components, and at least one product, called “MacuHealth” that contains all three. Studies show that products like these can protect the eyes from oxidative stress, which is what happens when things rust. As such, these products have been affectionately called “ocular rust preventers,” or “internal sunglasses.” Vision can be sharper, and it has been shown that people with driving challenges (night driving, glare, peripheral awareness [such as at intersections]) can see improve in as little as one year after beginning this regimen.

Photo by Nithi clicks on Trend Hype / CC BY

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