More sunshine a day may keep vision loss away, U.K. researchers have found. But a sardine, which is rich in vitamin D or two a day may be helpful as well.
Increasing periodic intake of the vitamin seems to stem declining eyesight in older age, the U.K.’s Independent recently reported. In a trial of middle-aged mice, scientists from University College at London found that giving vitamin D over a period of six weeks could enhance vision. In addition to improving eyesight, increasing vitamin levels also cut amyloid beta, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and the onset of old age.
By the time people reach 70 years old, normal aging can cut the number of light receptive cells in the retina by almost one-third. Along with age-related cell inflammation, this can lead to macular degeneration, the top cause of blindness among people older than 50 years in developed countries.
One group of 1-year-old middle-aged female mice (one mouse year = 50 human years) was injected with safflower oil infused by vitamin D, while another received vitamin-free safflower oil. After six weeks, electrical responses within the retinal cells improved substantially in the eyes of the mice who were injected with the vitamin because of key biological and molecular changes, the scientists concluded.
Cells that can cause inflammation but are important to the immune system were reduced, but the remaining ones operated in beneficial as opposed to destructive ways. Amyloid beta deposits, which are considered to contribute to both age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as well as Alzheimer’s, were reduced as well. So, the findings should give hope to those at risk for or in the early stages of AMD as well as the aging population as a whole.
“Taking vitamin D supplements in the early stages of AMD may prove a very simple and effective route to limit disease progression,” the researchers wrote, in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, according to the U.K.’s Independent newspaper.
They added that the vitamin “may have a wider role to play in health and problems associated with aging than in AMD alone.”
The scientists hope to take their research to the next level with human subjects. So be sure to take a walk in the sun sometimes or take vitamin D periodically to keep your peepers in good shape as you age.