The Role of Free Radicals and Antioxidants in Macular Degeneration

The Role of Free Radicals and Antioxidants in Macular Degeneration

Posted under Eye Health, Low Vision Info

While there are some risk factors for age related macular degeneration (AMD) that you can’t control, there are also some that you can.  The ones that are handed to you at birth include blue or light colored eyes, female, and family history.   When asked, “ Are more people getting AMD today than ever before?”  Lylas Mogk, internationally recognized expert on AMD, founding director of the Center for Vision Rehab and Research at the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan and author of Macular Degeneration – The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight writes,  “Yes, …. It may be a result of our eating habits, food production methods, and the effects of more than half a century of heavy-duty industrial pollution.”

Free Radical Damage

Dr. Mogk devotes several chapters in her book to the role of free radicals and states that, “Almost every single one of the risk factors we have for macular degeneration can be linked to free radicals. “  Free radicals are constantly forming in the body and are the normal byproduct of aging as well as from environmental exposure.  Oxidation is a chemical reaction that leaves the body with thousands of unstable electrons that can cause damage to our cells and especially to the macula.   This tiny spot in the retina is highly susceptible to oxidative stress because it consumes high levels of oxygen which then leads to the production of high levels of free radicals.   What also contributes to unbalanced or unhealthy numbers of damaging free radicals?  Dr. Mogk responds by writing, ” The problem is that pesticides, car exhaust, cigarette smoke, chemical food additives, household cleaners, and excessive unprotected sun exposure, which we wind up eating, breathing and soaking up in record amounts …. are toxic to our eyes and to the rest of our bodies.”


The Role of Antioxidants

Antioxidant rich foods provide us with molecules that will disarm and neutralize these marauding bandits.  It can be difficult to keep antioxidant levels at a capacity that is able to meet the challenge of constant exposure and bombardment from unhealthy chemicals and ingredients in our food, water, air and personal care or cleaning products.  The five recommendations by Dr. Mogk for reducing one’s risk for macular degeneration or to slow its progression are to avoid any exposure to smoking, wear UV and bluelight blocking sunglasses, include dark green leafy vegetables in your diet,  eat anti-inflammatory oils and avoid pro-inflammatory oils.


Keeping  free radicals in balance is extremely critical in the prevention of macular degeneration, in fighting disease in general, and in the aging battle. For a more indepth discussion on the role of antioxidants visit:


How to Include More Antioxidant Rich Foods In Your Diet


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN