Protect your eyesight with coenzyme q10, omega-3, chocolate catechins

Nutraceuticals and eye health: coenzyme q10, omega-3 fatty acids, chocolate catechins can play a major role in eye protection. Protection also for neurodegenerative diseases such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Discussed at the 5th Congress on Nutraceuticals and the Eye in Rome.

Rome – According to WHO estimates, today there are 217 million visually impaired people in the world, but in 85% of cases visual impairment could be avoided. Even the eyes age and not only because of the appearance of ‘crow’s feet’. Oxidative stress, which is responsible for the production of free radicals, leaves evident signs on all our organs, including our eyesight. The oxidative damage induces in the long run a stress of the mitochondria, organs that produce the energy necessary to the retinal ganglion cells and that – put under attack by free radicals – become less efficient.

It is discussed during the Fifth Congress on Nutraceuticals and Eye that takes place today in Rome under the patronage of the “Wisdom” University of Rome and SiNut (Italian Society of Nutraceuticals).

Oxidative stress and eyes. “Oxidative stress – explains Gianluca Scuderi, associate professor of the Department of Neuroscience, Mental Health and Sense Organs -Nesmos of the Sapienza University of Rome and head of the Ophthalmology Unit of the Sant’Andrea Hospital – is the basis of all the mechanisms of aging: skin, brain and also that of the retina and optic nerve. It is also the basis of some degenerative mechanisms such as cataracts, glaucoma and maculopathy.

Nutraceuticals: ‘taxis’ of active ingredients. A damage that can be countered through nutraceuticals, food substances found in nature that, concentrated in capsules or pills provide the benefits exponentially. “They can be taken through food but often intestinal absorption is low or not sufficient to cross the physiological barriers to reach the target organ (brain, eye, etc.) – explains Professor Scuderi. Nutraceuticals, on the other hand, help to provide a more concentrated or more bioavailable substance, i.e. one that is more easily absorbed by the body, such as a sort of ‘taxi’ that serves to bring the substance right where it is needed”.

Nutraceuticals in ophthalmology – “In ophthalmology – confirms Scuderi – nutraceuticals are now increasingly used as adjuvants of various eye diseases, including the first two causes of irreversible deficiency of visual function in industrialized countries: macular degeneration senile and glaucoma. Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C and E, ginkgo biloba, beta-carotene, omega 3, zinc and copper are just some of the substances that can help combat these diseases.

The AREDS studies. Two of the most influential studies on the benefits of eye supplements are the AREDS (Age RelatedEyesDiseaseStudy) and AREDS2 studies sponsored by the National Eye Institute and conducted on over 5,000 people. “The AREDS studies – says Professor Scuderi – have provided substantial evidence that the continued use of high-dose multivitamins and antioxidants can decrease the risk of progression of age-related macular degeneration (25% at 5 years), especially in individuals with high risk factors. However, the levels of substances that have been shown to be effective in the studies conducted so far are difficult to achieve with diet alone, hence the need to formulate supplements to reach the therapeutic target.

The neuroprotection of Coenzyme Q10. Among the molecules able to perform a protective function against free radicals is Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone, a molecule with bioenergetic activity and powerful antioxidant. It is a molecule that is also produced by our body but unfortunately the levels of Coenzyme Q10 in the human retina are reduced by 40% with age. “From studies conducted on animal models for neurodegenerative diseases, Coenzyme Q10 has shown beneficial properties and very promising protective effects in Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s Korea, Friedreich’s Ataxia and also in glaucoma,” explains the expert. To confirm the effectiveness of Coenzyme Q10, the first independent Italian study on neuroprotection in glaucoma was launched: “This is a study conducted by the Mario Negri Institute in Milan, in which we also participate as a reference center. The study, which will last three years, involves about 600 patients and 17 centers for the treatment of glaucoma throughout Italy.

From eye drops to tablets. Until now, Coenzyme Q10 was used in the form of eye drops without preservatives, but recently has become available, in ophthalmology, even the oral formulation with the intake of two capsules per day. This is an important innovation, since the adherence to the pharmacological therapy of patients with glaucoma is often put to the test by the need to carry out numerous daily instillations with a high risk of discontinuity of treatment.

Ginkgo Biloba and Omega-3 fatty acids. In the framework of the Congress, the extract of Ginkgo Biloba (scientific name Salisburia Adian

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