I was sitting in NAMI (Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, Pensacola, Florida) on the morning of Wednesday, June 11, 1969. A Naval officer walked up to us and said that after becoming Navy Pilots, our tour of duty had been extended from three and a half years to five years. One candidate asked if this applied to Naval Flight Officers. The answer was no, it did not apply to that group.
Unknown the everyone in the Navy (then and now), I changed my designator from 1315 (Navy Pilot) to 1325 (Naval Flight Officer). I had all my paperwork in front of me. It was my second day in boot camp. After checking in, we spent two days getting our flight physicals and completing our paperwork. The Navy never knew I had changed designators by myself.
My eyesight was perfect as it had to be for pilot school. Now, nearly fifty years after book camp, my eyesight has changed a little. I passed the Texas driver’s license eye test a couple of years ago without glasses. I had to squint a couple of times to read the letter/number correctly.
Eyes change with age. Our retinas can no longer see as clearly. Diminished night vision is one of the first signs of declining eye health. Many older adults don’t like to drive at night because their vision is impaired, even with glasses. Why not provide the nutrients needed to ensure or improve eye health? Age-related macular degeneration affects a significant fraction of our society. Cataract surgery gives a quick fix to some, but five years later glare-related difficulties can impair driving for some.
Fortunately, there are some nutrients that can help our eyes. The macular carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin, improve eye health. Photostress recovery, disability glare threshold, and macular pigment optical density are three parameters measured to define night blindness.
Studies were done with a placebo, and two different doses of macular carotenoids. Measurements were done at the beginning, six months later and a year later. All three parameters of night blindness improved in the groups with macular carotenoids compared to the placebo group. The results were significant.
Additional testing was done with macular carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acid for people with wet macular degeneration and related eye disease. Volunteers were tested for visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. Again, those tested with both the macular carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids showed remarkable improvement.
Two large randomized controlled trials evaluated macular carotenoids against beta-carotene. The results were similar without any side effects that sometimes accompany beta carotene alone. The most recent studies in 2016 show, without a doubt, improvement in eye health using macular carotenoids.
Additionally, many berries contain a flavonoid compound called cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G). This flavonoid stimulates the regeneration of rhodopsin, which helps immensely with night blindness and the ability to see in low-level or dark conditions.