Oxidative status

Our bodies need oxygen to survive. But oxygen molecules can take on different forms, some good, some bad. For peak performance of bodily function, a balanced oxygen or oxidative state is desired. However, the very act of living throws off our oxidative balance. Exposure to toxins in our diet and environment makes our bodies pro-oxidant; full of free radicals which are unstable atoms from oxygen molecules that are missing an electron. Free radicals damage atoms in healthy molecules by stealing an electron, creating a new free radical. This chain reaction continues creating a condition known as oxidative stress, which damages cells and their component proteins and DNA. Oxidative stress is made worse by factors such as smoking, obesity, and genetics. Additionally, oxidative stress in the eye is made worse by blue light exposure and low macular pigment. Collectively, these factors increase the risk of developing Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). So, left unchecked, oxidative stress leads to systemic diseases in the body and AMD in the eyes.

Antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals to stop them from stealing electrons, thus protecting cells under oxidative stress. So, antioxidants protect us by neutralizing free radicals. Stated another way, living leads to oxidative stress that accumulates throughout our lifetime leading to chronic disease unless neutralized by antioxidants. The key to winning this battle is to know your oxidative status, and to take steps to improve it.

BioPhotonic ScannerThe BioPhotonic Scanner reads the level of carotenoids found in the skin of the palm of our hand. Carotenoids are the most potent antioxidants that we can consume. While they are naturally found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, and fish, our diets impede us from eating enough to really make a difference. Even if we are healthy eaters, the quality of our food precludes us from mitigating our pro-oxidant status. According to a study by the US Department of Agriculture, due to environmental forces, one serving of spinach in 1953 had the equivalent nutritional value as 43 servings in 2000. Over the last twenty years, this has likely gotten worse.


Systemic oxidative stress contributes to AMD, in that free radicals in the blood make their way to the retina. As vision is our most developed of the senses, it is not surprising that retinal tissue requires more oxygen than anywhere else in the body. Light coming into our eyes and striking the retina paired with these free radicals creates what is termed photo-oxidative stress. The macula is located centrally in the back of our eye to give us our central vision. As such it is exposed to the most light. Light is made up of wavelengths, with the shortest wavelengths having the highest energy, and the most potential to do damage. In terms of color, the blue end of the color spectrum has the shortest wavelength and highest energy, so has the most potential to damage the macula.

macular pigmentIn Latin, the macula is known as the macula lutea, which means yellow spot. This yellow coloration is derived from pigment made up of three strong carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin. Known as the macular pigment, it serves a dual purpose. First, it shields the underlying photoreceptors from blue light, which enhances contrast sensitivity, thus improving vision. Second, these carotenoids freely donate electrons to neutralize free radicals which in clinical trials, when taken as a supplement, has been shown to decrease progression of AMD and is thought to be preventive for those at risk of the disease. Unfortunately, the average level of macular pigment found in the US population is much too low to enhance vision or prevent disease progression.

Measuring skin carotenoid levels with the BioPhotonic Scanner has been definitively correlated with macular carotenoid levels in two independent, peer-reviewed, scientific studies. While roughly 50% of the American population is on a nutritional supplement, 94% of those initially scanned will test below normal. These results are attributed to low nutrient levels in the American diet, and the poor quality of typical off-the-shelf nutritional supplements. Conversely, 99% of those re-scanned after two months of using a high-quality nutritional supplement will increase their score. At Triton Eye Care, we recommend that all of our patients undergo oxidative status testing with the BioPhotonic Scanner. The procedure is non-invasive, inexpensive, and takes about thirty seconds. The results provide a picture of not only your risk of eye disease, but also of your overall health. Depending on your score and risk of AMD, proper nutritional supplements will be recommended. Follow-up testing will track your progress, and, there is no charge for repeat scanning.