People with low levels of antioxidants who are exposed to frequent sunlight have a substantially increased risk of developing advanced macular degeneration (AMD) according to new research presented in Archives of Ophthalmology. This is the first study to report a negative association between sunlight exposure and AMD in people with low antioxidant levels.
AMD is a disease related to aging which eventually works to destroy one's central vision. Central vision is the straight ahead vision which permits one to do daily things like reading and driving. AMD can occur in two distinct ways, dry AMD and wet AMD. Wet is far more devastating to vision, and is always preceded by the dry form, though not everyone who has dry AMD will necessarily advance to the later stage.
The eyes are generally protected against the damaging effects of sunlight by the antioxidants of vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc. Individuals low in these essential antioxidants were found to be the most at risk for AMD, so it is highly recommended to maintain antioxidant levels for all of these nutrients. Find yourself a good pair of sunshades as well:
"Lowering retinal exposure to blue light and ensuring that intake of key antioxidant nutrients is sufficient are the main recommendations from our study. Any benefit from reducing sun exposure must be set against the benefits of sunlight, in particular its role in vitamin D synthesis.
We advise reducing ocular exposure when outdoors by wearing broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses, estimated to reduce ocular light exposure by approximately 40% and 70%, respectively."
Archives of Ophthalmology: Sunlight Exposure, Antioxidants, and AMD
National Institutes of Health: Facts About Advanced Macular Degeneration