In everyday life, glare from the setting sun while you drive or off of a reflective surface can be a nuisance and sometimes even dangerous. Glare can also be encountered during such normal activities as being outdoors, gardening and golfing.
Common causes of glare include:
- Direct sunlight
- Reflection of sunlight off of smooth surfaces, including other vehicles
- Overhead lights, especially fluorescent lights in office settings
- Headlights from oncoming automobiles
- Light from computer monitors
Glare keeps you from clearly seeing your surroundings. Contours and contrast seem to disappear. Instead of seeing a distinction between objects and their background, problems with glare can cause the sensation of looking at a white wall of light. This can create a dangerous situation when driving, especially when a person is unable to see a pedestrian in the crosswalk, the colour of a traffic light, or even another vehicle.
To compound the problem, glare sensitivity can make the effects of glare much more difficult to handle. Glare sensitivity can be very debilitating as it can cause a decrease in vision while causing pain and discomfort in the eyes.
Glare sensitivity can be caused by various circumstances. Common factors associated with glare sensitivity include:
- Over-exposure to ultraviolet rays
- Light-coloured eyes with enlarged pupils
So how do we cut glare naturally? The human macular pigments, Lutein and Zeaxanthin which are most commonly linked to protection from age-
related macular degeneration (AMD), have been found to reduce the deleterious effects of glare on a test group of people with normal eyesight, report researchers in the journal Optometry and Vision Science.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are powerful, natural antioxidants that protect the eye by absorbing damaging blue light and reducing glare. Blue light can cause harmful oxidative stress in the eye. Lutein and Zeaxanthin protects cells and membranes by reducing harmful free radicals.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are natural yellow-pigmented nutrients belonging to the carotenoid family. Carotenoids are the red, yellow, and orange pigments found in yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, dark green, leafy vegetables and corn.
Of the more than 600 plant pigments called carotenoids found in nature, only two carotenoids: zeaxanthin and lutein selectively accumulates in the retina, macula and lens.
Zeaxanthin is the dominant component in the centre of the macula, while lutein dominates at the outer edges.
The eye is selective and preferentially places dietary zeaxanthin in the very centre of the macula, the most critical area for central vision with the greatest need for protection.
According to the study published in Optometry and Vision Science, daily supplementation with 2 mg of zeaxanthin and 10 mg of lutein resulted in an increase in the macular pigment optical density (MPOD) after as early as two months and continued to increase over six months. This increase in MPOD was then directly related to improvements in glare disability and photo stress recovery times.
Supplemented subjects could tolerate 58% more intense glaring light before losing their ability to detect a central target. They also had, on average, 14% faster recovery to photo stress.
Another study showed that long-term supplementation with zeaxanthin protects the photoreceptors of the retina against light-induced damage.
When considering supplements, make sure that the supplements contains at least 6mg (preferably 10mg) of standardised lutein. Many lutein and zeaxanthin supplements contain only very small amounts of zeaxanthin – in the micrograms (mcg), whereas studies have found that zeaxanthin is beneficial only when their amounts are much higher, e.g. at least 5mg. For convenience of dosing, it makes good sense to look for a two-in-one formula.