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Vision Protection

Albion Minerals®
Vision Health Vision Health

The impact of clinically proven natural ingredients on vision health is becoming clear to consumers.

How important is vision to Americans? An independent poll found that Americans rank “losing eyesight” highly among the worst health concerns that could affect them.

The public opinion poll, which was commissioned by Research! America and the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR), found that Americans—regardless of race and ethnicity—believe losing their eyesight would have a great impact on their daily lives. The results regarding fear of vision loss complement findings from the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) American Eye-Q Survey. “Quality of life” ranked as the possible consequence associated with vision loss for non-Hispanic Whites and Asians, while African Americans and Hispanics ranked “loss of independence” as their top concern.

Further, as rates of chronic diseases, such as diabetes rise, along with an aging population, rates of blindness and low vision are expected to double to affect 6.6 million Americans by 2030.

While eating a healthy diet is a necessary step to protect vision health, Golan Raz, head of the Global Health Division at Lycored in New Jersey, said for the dietary supplements market, vision health is a primary category. “Most people will start experiencing a decrease in vision after the age of 40, therefore, nutrients that promotes vision health are relevant to almost any individual at some stage of life.”

Bob Capelli, executive vice president of global marketing with Algae Health Sciences in California, agreed. “Most of the maladies that affect our eyes are due to the aging process. The National Institutes of Health noted that 11.4 percent of the U.S. population has one of the top four eye diseases: cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Each of these diseases increases drastically as we hit middle age and beyond.” And, he added, “The market for vision health products has been growing over the last few years as more Baby Boomers hit 65 and start running into eye problems.”

While the category has a stronghold with older generations, Baby Boomers aren’t the only ones having eye troubles. Karen Hecht, PhD, technical services specialist with AstaReal USA Inc. in Bellevue, WA and Burlington, NJ, pointed out that there has been a relatively new phenomenon where younger adults—even teens—are experiencing dry eyes and the newer issue, computer vision syndrome (CVS), which results from viewing a display (smartphone, tablet, computer, TV) for protracted, uninterrupted periods of time.

“The most common symptoms of CVS are eye fatigue, blurred vision and itchy eyes. But that’s more than enough for many people, as these symptoms can disrupt the very activity the individual is using the device for,” Hecht said. “Asthenopia, part of CVS, is exacerbated by watching a screen between four to seven hours. Teens and kids are viewing screens for hours, unlike their parents or grandparents, and the conditions of dry eyes or CVS are more ubiquitous than ever, making supplements such as astaxanthin highly relevant.”

Change in Awareness

We are what we eat, and so too are our eyes.

“In recent years, we see a growing awareness to the role nutrition plays in general health and wellness and as a result, also in eye health,” said Raz. “This growing awareness to healthy eating, indication specific diet and the use of quality clinically proven dietary supplements supports the interest more and more consumers have in products that can support their wellness goals. Nutrition was proven to have preventative qualities when it comes to eye health, so naturally, the demand for this relevant type of products is constantly growing.”

At Lycored, Raz said the company sees the demand coming from three main groups of consumers:

• People who were diagnosed with early stage of one of the eye diseases that can be positively influenced by nutrition

• People who are specifically concerned with age related eye diseases (like AMD as an example) and would like to use nutrition in hope of prevention

• People over 40 with high awareness to the role nutrition takes in general health and, for one reason or another, have specific interest to focus on eye health.

A Power Pigment

Astaxanthin belongs to the same carotenoid xanthophyll group as the typical go-to eye-health carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, but astaxanthin has 10 times the antioxidant capacity (Miki, et al, 1991), Hecht explained. One study she pointed to (Nagaki et al 2006) showed 9 percent increase in accommodation amplitude. A total of 25 workers using visual display technology (VDT) were given 6 mg astaxanthin, while 23 VDT workers took placebo. The astaxanthin group saw significant improvement in self-reported symptoms “heavy head” “dimness of sight” “stiff shoulders and back.”

Another study (Nagaki et al, 2006) showed the efficacy of 6 mg daily to improve accommodation and lessen eyestrain. Two previous studies (Nakamura et al 2004, and Nitta et al 2005) showed that 12 mg astaxanthin daily worked even more effectively.

Previous clinical studies have shown that astaxanthin supplementation improves eye fatigue by quenching free radicals that trigger inflammation associated with persistent visual stress and tension of the ciliary muscle, which controls lens refraction, Hecht noted.

Shiratori et al. 2005 investigated the efficacy of natural astaxanthin on speed of accommodation in 40 healthy individuals who had asthenopia. The researchers took a 6 mg astaxanthin supplement or placebo per day for four weeks. The astaxanthin group showed significant improvement (48 percent) in far-to-near refocus time, and 44 percent improvement in near-to-far refocus time.

Increased accommodation amplitude in all treated subjects, for example, indicated improved reaction on near and far objects (Nagaki et al, 2002, 2006, 2010; Nakamura et al, 2004). The effects of astaxanthin in these and other related studies are significant in only two weeks of supplementation and further improved after four weeks, Hecht said.

“Astaxanthin helps support against computer vision syndrome by promoting desirable accommodation,” Hecht added. “Accommodation measures the lens refractive property and it corresponds to the ciliary muscle function. This small ocular muscle controls the lens thickness to focus the light on the retina. In heavy visual workloads, the eye is focused on a fixed object distance for extended periods that will cause muscle spasms or develop fatigue detectable by accommodation tests. Each clinical study used a combination of accommodation tests to indicate the amount of fatigue present.”

According to Capelli, AlgaeHealth’s flagship ingredient Natural Astaxanthin is the ultimate anti-aging supplement. “With more than 100 clinical studies (most of which are linked to concerns that older people have), Natural Astaxanthin is the top supplement choice for anyone over 40 years of age. In the area of eye health specifically, there have been 14 human clinical trials and 24 supporting pre-clinical trials showing a variety of benefits for the eyes.

Capelli continued. “The onslaught of the ‘evil twins,’ oxidation and inflammation, ravage the eyes and brain over time.” What consumers need is a strong antioxidant and an effective anti-inflammatory that can cross the blood-brain and blood-retinal barriers and combat the evil twins in our most delicate organs. And that’s exactly what Natural Astaxanthin does. In research dating to the 1940s, it has been shown to cross these barriers and support eye and brain health.”

Objectives for Research

According to Raz, one of Lycored’s goals as a brand that specializes in nutrition technologies is to generate value for its customers. Therefore, the Lycored team focuses on both the research end, as well as the brand and marketing end. Lycored develops ingredients and formulations that are being scientifically studied in order to optimized and confirm both safety and efficacy.

“On the brand and marketing front, the Lycored team is constantly focusing on increasing consumer awareness to the role of nutrition, nutrients and healthy life-style in general and wellbeing plus in eye health,” he said.

“Manufacturers and consumers seem to have very different objectives when it comes to research,” Raz noted, adding that manufacturers are after health claims validation. “They would like to know that a claim they use could be substantiated by the available scientific data. Consumers, on the other end, would like to know that a product is safe and effective for use. In that respect, we should highlight that some of the manufacturers are using scientific data that was generated on one ingredient to support claims they use on a finished product that has more than one ingredient. When this is the case, we can say that the data may be less relevant as the overall chemical structure of the finished product is substantially different than the one studied.”

To overcome this challenge, Lycored introduced its LNC (Lycored Nutrient Complex) portfolio. Under this portfolio, brands and manufacturers can find LycoInvision, a proprietary blend that was and is being studied in both pre-clinical and clinical trials and found to be effective for eye health.


The main innovation seen in vision health supplements comes from formulation work and delivery systems. “Using pre-clinical discovery phase, companies find formulas that are proven to be synergistic, and therefore more effective,” Raz said. “On the delivery systems front, we see successful efforts aiming to make sure products are biologically available and in that respect, the relevant nutrients can actually get to the eye.”

Another driving force comes from AREDS (age-related eye disease study). “One of the most important innovations in vision health over the last decade has been the addition of Natural Astaxanthin by several cutting-edge brands to the AREDS formula and other eye health formulas,” Capelli said. “This is key to making a good formula great since astaxanthin is generally stronger than other antioxidants (including carotenoids in the AREDS formula) by at least a factor of 10 times.”

Ultimately, Raz suggests that vision health be addressed with a healthy lifestyle approach. “With any health indication, also with eye health, it is the overall holistic lifestyle that will drive a positive effect. One single nutrient or even a formulation of quality nutrients that is studied and found safe and effective, can only be sustainably helpful when it is a part of a personalized, balanced lifestyle that consciously promotes wellness and well-being. We at Lycored truly believe that it is our responsibility as a brand to promote this message of wellness in every possible way.” NIE


Drinking Hot Tea Daily Linked to Lower Glaucoma Risk

Drinking a cup of hot tea at least once a day may be linked to a significantly lower risk of developing the serious eye condition, glaucoma, finds a small study published online in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. But drinking decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated tea, iced tea and soft drinks do not seem to make any difference to glaucoma risk, the findings show.

Glaucoma causes fluid pressure to build up inside the eye (intraocular pressure), damaging the optic nerve. It is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, and currently affects 57.5 million people, and is expected to increase to 65.5 million by 2020.

Previous research suggests that caffeine can alter intraocular pressure, but no study so far has compared the potential impact of decaffeinated and caffeinated drinks on glaucoma risk.

So the researchers looked at data from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the U.S. This is a nationally representative annual survey of around 10,000 people that includes interviews, physical examinations, and blood samples, designed to gauge the health and nutritional status of U.S. adults and children.

In this particular year, it also included eye tests for glaucoma. Among the 1,678 participants who had full eye test results, including photos, 84 (5 percent) adults had developed the condition.

They were asked how often and how much they had drunk of caffeinated and decaffeinated drinks, including soft drinks and iced tea, over the preceding 12 months, using a validated questionnaire (Food Frequency).

Compared with those who didn’t drink hot tea every day, those who did, had a lower glaucoma risk, the data showed.

After taking account of potentially influential factors, such as diabetes and smoking, hot tea-drinkers were 74 per cent less likely to have glaucoma.

But no such associations were found for coffee—caffeinated or decaffeinated—decaffeinated tea, iced tea or soft drinks.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, and the absolute numbers of those with glaucoma were small. Information on when glaucoma had been diagnosed was also unavailable.

Nor did the survey ask about factors like cup size, tea type, or the length of brewing time, all of which might have been influential.

But tea contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective chemicals, which have been associated with a lowered risk of serious conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, said the researchers.

Further, previous research has suggested that oxidation and neurodegeneration may be involved in the development of glaucoma, they added, concluding: “Further research is needed to establish the importance of these findings and whether hot tea consumption may play a role in the prevention of glaucoma.”

For more information, visit www.bmj.com.

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For More Information:

Algae Health Science, www.algaehealthsciences.com
AstaReal USA Inc., www.astarealusa.com
Lycored, www.Lycored.com

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