You’ve very likely heard of this antioxidant. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that your eyesight depends on it.
You see, your eyes are very sensitive. And they’re under constant attack from free radicals that can lead to Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness for Americans.
Fortunately, your eyes have a barrier around your retina for protection. A single layer of cells called your retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).
Today I’m going to show you how to use the natural hormone that doubles as an antioxidant to strengthen your RPE. That way, you can keep reading, driving, watching your favorite shows, and recognizing the people you care about no matter how old you are.
But first, let me explain why your RPE barrier might be the most important part of your eye to keep healthy.
You probably already know that you can see because your brain makes sense of the light that comes into your eye. And it’s your retina that sends that information from your eye to your brain.
While your retina is busy communicating from your eye to your brain, your RPE is in charge of communicating from your eye to your body.
It’s only one cell layer thick, yet the RPE barrier manages to:
- constantly protect your retina by absorbing extra light energy
- transport water and nutrients into the tiny blood vessels of your eyes
- take up nutrients like glucose, vitamin A, and fatty acids from the blood and deliver them to your photoreceptors
- transform vitamin A into the form your photoreceptors use so you can see clearly
- keep your photoreceptors active and ready
- recycle nutrients and return them to photoreceptors to help rebuild their outer layers
- secrete growth factors that help maintain the structural integrity of your eyes
- oversee your eyes’ immune function
The thing is, wherever there’s a lot of metabolic activity like that going on inside you, all that work produces free radicals. Those are the molecules that attack your cells and cause inflammation.
Free radical attacks constantly erode parts of your retina, and this is what can eventually lead to AMD.
So nature, in its wisdom, had provided a dual role for the RPE barrier. At the same time it’s doing all that work to maintain your vision, it’s also protecting your eyes and fighting inflammation.
But your RPE needs help, because as you get older, it doesn’t work quite as well.
Fortunately, there’s something simple you can do to give your RPE barrier a boost and keep your vision sharp and your eyes clear. You can give your eyes more of a hormone they already make, but that you make less of as you age.
It’s called melatonin. You may already know it as a sleep regulator that is produced in your brain. But your eyes also make a small amount. And it does much more than help you sleep.
Melatonin is also an ultra-powerful antioxidant that guards your RPE cells and their DNA from damage by inflammation. It also helps maintain your retina’s structure.1,2
In one study, they took RPE cells and treated them with melatonin for three days. Melatonin was able to both protect cells from damage and prevent cell death.
Researchers also did a study where they gave people who already had AMD 3mg of melatonin each night before bedtime. After only three months, they had reduced damage, and their eyesight had stabilized.3 The study’s authors wrote that the change after melatonin was “remarkable.”
I recommend you take melatonin every day to help restore their natural melatonin levels and keep your eyes focused and clear.
One thing to bear in mind: Melatonin’s a potent natural aid. Many doctors and health experts recommend as much as 3mg a day, even if you’re currently healthy. But that’s as much as the people in the study above took, except they already had AMD.
You only need small doses for prevention – around 500 micrograms or one half of one milligram.
Another tricky thing about melatonin is the form it comes in. It’s not as effective in a pill because it’ll take longer to enter your bloodstream. Look for melatonin liquids or sprays – they’re fast-acting and just as affordable.
1. Liang F, Green L, Wang C, Alssadi R, Godley B. “Melatonin protects human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells against oxidative stress.” Exp Eye Res. 2004 Jun;78(6):1069-75.
2. Fu Y, Tang M, Fan Y, Zou H, Sun X, Xu X. “Anti-apoptotic effects of melatonin in retinal pigment epithelial cells.” Front Biosci. 2012 Jan 1;17:1461-8.
3. Yi C, Pan X, Yan H, Guo M, Pierpaoli W. “Effects of melatonin in age-related macular degeneration.” Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Dec;1057:384-92.