Free radicals are molecules that are missing an electron.
This leaves them unstable and highly reactive, that is, they will react with just about any other molecule they find.
They steal an electron from these molecules, damaging cells and cell membranes.
They even have the power to damage your DNA.
Your body creates these molecules as byproducts of immune processes.
When bacteria, viruses and any other foreign substances enter your body, your immune system destroys them.
This destruction results in free radicals.
These molecules can also develop from the presence of heavy metals in the body.
Radiation exposure also creates them.
Sunlight, pollution, food contaminants, and especially smoking all provide or create even more of this.
Superoxide is the most reactive of all free radical chemicals; it is a very toxic oxygen molecule.
Your body uses superoxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant enzyme, to neutralize superoxide.
This reduces the damage you incur from the millions of attacks caused by superoxide that occur every second.
While protecting you, the quenching of superoxide reactions produces hydrogen peroxide, which requires catalase, another antioxidant enzyme, to reduce it to water and oxygen.
Two other antioxidant enzymes created in the cells and used to Protect Your Eyesight from damage are glutathione peroxidase and methionine reductase.
These four antioxidant enzymes are very important protectors of the eyes, and are found in high levels in eyes that are functioning normally.
Since blood flow, and thus the presence of oxygen, is higher in the eyes than in any other body part except the brain, this damage, also known as oxidative stress, is very high here.
The Aging Process
Many scientists believe that they are the major cause of the aging process.
As we grow older, more and more of them are created in our bodies, and more are added from outside influences.
They begin to outnumber the antioxidants available to destroy them, and the process begins to look like a runaway train: out of control.
We can help take control of this free-radical–induced aging process by avoiding the circumstances that create them, like exposure to sunlight without adequate protection, eating damaged, rancid and decaying foods, eating too much fat, and smoking.
We can also help by adding Eye Health Antioxidants to our diets, in the form of whole foods and supplements.