Your eyes are more than just a means to see the world. They are vital to performing everyday functions such as moving, reading, and touching every aspect of your life, including socializing and protecting yourself from harm. Although most people assume it is just about this, the importance of eye health goes beyond vision! The health of your eyes is closely linked to overall health. Many eye conditions are related to other health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. And as you age, maintaining healthy vision can help prevent falls and associated injuries such as fractures. In short, taking care of your eyes means caring for your entire body.
Maintaining healthy vision can be influenced by various factors such as age, environment, diet, and underlying health conditions. While these factors are crucial, incorporating specific nutrients into your diet may improve your vision and delay age-related eye conditions like macular degeneration. Research shows that taking certain nutrients contributes to better eye health.
There are several vitamins and nutrients that are important for maintaining eye health. Here are the top ones:
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is also known as retinol because it produces pigments in the retina, which help you see better in low light. It also nourishes the cornea, the clear outer layer in front of the eye. The cornea helps to focus light and helps in clear vision. Vitamin A deficiency leads to night blindness, eye dryness, and poor vision. Studies show that adequate vitamin A intake may be associated with a reduced risk of Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient and a powerful antioxidant. It helps form collagen, a type of protein that helps provide structure to the eye. Vitamin C helps form the collagen structures for the corneal and scleral region of the eye. As an antioxidant it fends off oxidation and protects the eye tissues.
Vitamin E: A diet rich in vitamin E is often recommended as part of maintaining healthy vision. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient and a powerful antioxidant. Since part of oxidative stress is considered one of the reasons for poor vision, cataracts, retinal degeneration, and other pathological conditions of the eye, consuming antioxidants like vitamin E may play a key role in mitigating oxidative stress and protecting delicate eye tissues. According to a randomized, placebo-controlled study (which is considered the gold standard), taking a daily dose of 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E, along with other nutrients such as carotenoids, zinc, and vitamin C, can help to slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in older adults and prevent it from reaching advanced stages.
Lutein: Lutein is a carotenoid that is present throughout the central nervous system and brain. It is mainly concentrated in the peripheral retina, choroid (which supplies blood to and nourishes the entire eye), and ciliary body (the middle layer of the eyeball). A lesser concentration of lutein can also be found in the lens and iris of the eye. Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, lutein offers numerous benefits for maintaining good eye health.
Zeaxanthin: Zeaxanthin is another antioxidant carotenoid like lutein that is present in the eyes. The key role of zeaxanthin is to filter the harmful effects of natural and artificial lights. Zeaxanthin is stored in the macula, retina and fovea (a spot in the center of the retina). Fovea is responsible for all activities requiring intense visual details, such as driving and reading.
According to research conducted by the Schepens Eye Research Institute and Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, the level of zeaxanthin in the retina strongly influences light damage. Researchers found that higher dietary levels of zeaxanthin provide significantly greater retinal protection than levels normally occurring in the diet. In essence, dietary zeaxanthin is shown to play an essential role in safeguarding the retina of the eye from the harmful effects of light.
Omega-3 fats: Omega – 3 fats are essential fats that form the structural components of all tissues and are vital for forming new cell membranes. Research shows that omega-3 fat, specifically DHA (Docosa hexaenoic acid) has directly influences the formation of rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is the most abundant protein in rod cells found in the retina. This visual pigment that is responsible for converting photons into chemical signals in the nervous system, which allows us to sense the light. DHA is necessary for converting the inactive form of rhodopsin to its active form. Preliminary studies show that low levels of DHA can alter the content and function of rhodopsin.
Zinc: Zinc is a micromineral found in high concentrations in the eye, specifically the retina and choroid. Zinc interacts with taurine (amino acid) and Vitamin A to help regulate the light-rhodopsin reaction. Zinc is also an antioxidant that plays various roles in many biochemical reactions. Zinc performs this subtle biochemical reaction which may influence the development and progression of several chronic eye diseases.
Pro DHA Eye by Nordic Naturals: Pro DHA Eye is a powerful formula that protects against harmful ultraviolet blue light and supports eye health. The formula contains a unique blend of concentrated omega-3 fish oils with natural carotenoids. The omega-3 helps fight inflammation and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin offer antioxidant protection and help maintain eye health. ProDHA Eye provides a total of 1460 mg of omega- 3 fats which includes 360 mg of EPA, 845 mg of DHA and 255 mg of other omega-3's in 2 softgels. The composition of carotenoids includes 20 mg of FloraGLO® Lutein and 4 mg of zeaxanthin. The freshness and purity of the fresh oils is ensured due to Nordic Natural’s patented “nitrogen processing” technology which prevents the typical side effects such as repeat or burp-back. The ProDHA Eye fish oil is presented in a natural triglyceride form, which is 70% more absorbable than the ethyl ester form found in fish oils.
The supplement is available in 60 and 120 count soft gels. The recommended dosage is 2 soft gels daily with food or as directed by your healthcare professional. The product surpasses all international quality standards and is third party tested for safety and efficacy. Nordic Naturals ProDHA Eye is free of gluten, milk derivatives, artificial colors and flavors and safe for individuals with gluten and lactose sensitivity.
Macular Support Formula by Pure Encapsulations: This is an excellent formula for individuals seeking to enhance their macular health. The macula is located at the center of the retina and is responsible for receiving light focused by the cornea and lens. Photoreceptor cells located in the macula transmit signals to the brain that are then interpreted as images. Pure Encapsulations Macular Support Formula offers antioxidants along with natural herbs/botanicals to help support the macula. The combination of these ingredients makes for a powerful formulation that helps protect the macula and maintain healthy vision. Macular Support Formula contains lutein and zeaxanthin, the two carotenoids that are most concentrated in the macular region of the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin help support the integrity and density of the macula pigment, as well as help maintain the health of the optical lens. The supplement offers an array of nutrients that are crucial for eye health along with a powerful combination of herbal extracts that protect the macula. When taken as directed each serving (2 capsules) provides 10mg of FloraGLO® Lutein, 2 mg of zeaxanthin, and 1445 microgram of proprietary blend of mixed carotenoids. Plus, it also provides 7500 mcg of vitamin A (as betacrotene), 800 mg of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), 250 mg of n-acetyl L-cysteine and 50 mg of Setria® glutathione. The supplement also provides 80 mg of bilberry fruit extract, 50 mg of grape seed extract, The recommended dosage is to take two capsules per day along with meals. The product is gluten-free, non-GMO and hypoallergenic.
Macu-support by Douglas Laboratories: A well-balanced formula with a spectrum of key nutrients that promote the health of retina and macula for healthy vision. Macu-support contains antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin which are crucial for supporting the macular region of the eye. Each serving size (3 capsules) provides 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin along with 25 mg of zinc, 500 mg of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), and 400 IU of vitamin E. The recommended dosage is 3 capsules per day.
Vitamin A 3000mcg (10,000 iu) by Pure Encapsulations: If you are looking for a sole vitamin A supplement, Pure Encapsulations offers the best Norwegian cod liver oil sourced vitamin A. The supplement is a combination of synthetic vitamin A palmitate and natural tocopherols. The recommended dosage is to take one capsule per day or as suggested by a healthcare provider. Each package supplies 120 soft gels capsules.
While incorporating these nutrients into our diets is the right step towards preserving our vision and maintaining good eye health. It is important to note that they should not be used as a replacement for regular eye exams and professional medical advice.