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The Most Important Vitamins For Eye Health

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Eye problems can be caused by many different factors. It’s clear that Vitamin deficiencies can lead to eye issues. Perhaps you are asking yourself, “Do I need vitamins and supplements?”

Your doctor may recommend supplements if your diet lacks the essential vitamins and nutrients that you require on a daily basis.

But for most people, they aren’t necessary. You can get all the vitamins you need from your diet. There is not much evidence linking vitamin supplements with better eye health.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is an exception. Talk to your eye doctor if you have AMD.

Research has indicated that certain vitamins might be beneficial to people suffering from AMD. A second study found that certain vitamins can slow down the progression of AMD in large numbers of people. The study also notes that these vitamins cannot slow down the progression of the disease. Unfortunately, vitamins cannot prevent the disease from developing in the first instance.

Before you take any supplements, consult your doctor.

What Are Eye Vitamins?

Your eyes are a significant part of your overall health. Nutrition is key. Supplements called eye vitamins come in pills and are meant to provide nutrients for the body to replenish any deficiencies.

Vitamin deficiencies can lead to eye problems. Depending on your situation, that may be true. Vitamin deficiencies can lead to eye problems. Nutrition plays an essential role in your overall health. Vitamin supplements may be recommended by your doctor if you are lacking key nutrients.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for vision. It helps maintain a clear cornea (the outer covering of your eyes).

This vitamin is also part of rhodopsin (a protein found in your eyes that helps you see in low light conditions) (source).

Vitamin A deficiencies are rare in developed countries but can lead to severe conditions like xerophthalmia if left untreated.

Xerophthalmia, a progressive eye disease that begins with night blindness, is called progressive eye disease. Your eyes and tear ducts can dry out if vitamin A deficiency is not treated. Your cornea will eventually become soft, leading to irreversible blindness ( Source and 2).

Vitamin A may also be beneficial in preventing other eye conditions. Studies have shown that vitamin A intake may reduce the risk of developing cataracts or other eye conditions (Source, Source, Source, Source.)

Vitamin-A-rich foods can be recommended for general eye health. Sweet potatoes, leafy green veggies, and bell peppers are all excellent sources.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, like vitamin E, is a powerful antioxidant that can protect your eyes from damaging free radicals (source).

Supplement AREDS contains Vitamin C and other nutrients that may be beneficial to those suffering from AMD. One study found that taking AREDS daily may decrease the chance of this condition worsening by 25% (source).

Vitamin C is also required to create collagen, a protein that gives structure to your eyes, especially in the cornea (source).

Numerous observational studies have shown that vitamin C could help reduce your chances of developing cataracts. This is a condition in which your vision becomes cloudy.

One observational study found that a daily intake of vitamin C above 490 mg was associated with a 75% lower risk of developing cataracts (source).

Another study showed that regular vitamin-C supplements could reduce cataract risk by 45% (source).

Vitamin C is a great way to increase your daily intake of vitamins. Bell peppers, citrus, and tropical fruits, as well as broccoli and kale contain high levels of vitamin C.

Vitamin E

Many eye conditions can be linked to oxidative stress. This is a state in which there is an imbalance between antioxidants, free radicals, and your body’s own defense mechanisms (source, source).

Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, helps protect your eyes from damage caused by free radicals (harmful, unstable molecules).

A seven-year study of 3,640 AMD patients showed that 400 IU of vitamin E and other nutrients in AREDS daily supplements reduced the risk of developing to advanced stages of AMD by 25% (source).

Some studies also suggest that diets high in vitamin E may prevent the development of age-related cataracts. There is more research needed, as there are not many studies that link vitamin E to this condition (source).

To maintain good eye health, it is essential to eat a healthy diet rich in vitamin E. Nuts, seeds, and cooking oils are all excellent sources of vitamin E. Good sources of vitamin E include salmon, avocado, and leafy green veggies.

Vitamins B6, 9 and 12

Researchers also examined the effects of several B vitamins on eye health, including vitamins B6, B9, and B12.

Combining vitamins can lower homocysteine levels, which is a protein found in the body and linked to inflammation and increased risk of developing AMD (source).

In a clinical study, women showed a 34% lower risk of developing AMD by taking 1,000 mg of vitamin B12 and vitamins B6 (Source).

These supplements are worth investigating further. It’s also unclear whether increasing your intake of vitamins-B-rich food would produce similar results.

Riboflavin

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is another B vitamin that has been studied in relation to eye health. Riboflavin, an antioxidant, has the potential to lower oxidative stress levels in your body, which includes your eyes ( source ).

Scientists are focusing on riboflavin’s ability to prevent cataracts. Long-term riboflavin deficiency could lead to the condition. Many people with cataracts are also deficient in this antioxidant (source, source).

One study showed that there was a 31% to 51% lower risk of developing cataracts when participants ate 1.6-2.2mg of riboflavin daily, as opposed to 0.8 mg per day (source).

According to health authorities, a daily intake of 1.1-1.3% mg of riboflavin is recommended. This amount is easy to attain as there are many foods high in riboflavin. Oats and milk are some examples. Yogurt, beef, and fortified cereals (source) are also examples.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin belong to the carotenoid group, a family of beneficial compounds that plants synthesize.

These carotenoids are found in the retina and macula of your eyes. They help protect your eyes from harmful blue light (source).

Numerous studies have shown that these plant compounds can prevent the development of AMD and slow down its progression (source, source).

One controlled, randomized study showed the potential benefits of lutein to people suffering from cataracts. Two years later, people who took 15mg of lutein three days a week saw improvements in their vision (source).

These compounds do not have safe supplemental doses or recommended daily intakes. Studies have shown that lutein can be taken up to 20mg per day for six months (source).

Supplements may not be required, however. Supplements may not be necessary. A diet high in vegetables and fruits can provide as little as 6 mg of lutein or zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are especially high in cooked spinach, kale, and collard greens (source).

Niacin

Niacin (vitamin B3) is a vitamin that helps convert food into energy. It also acts as an antioxidant (source).

Recent studies suggest that Niacin could play a role in preventing glaucoma (source). This is a condition where the optic nerve of the eye is damaged.

An observational study of the nutrient intake of Korean adults and their risk of developing glaucoma was done. It found that there was a link between this condition and a low dietary intake (source).

A study on animals also showed that high doses of Niacin were effective in preventing glaucoma (source).

More research is needed to determine if Niacin can cause glaucoma.

Supplements should not be taken without caution. Consuming Niacin in large amounts (1.5-5 grams daily) can cause eye irritations, such as blurred vision and macular damage.

There is no evidence to suggest that eating foods high in Niacin can cause adverse reactions. You can find Niacin in meat, poultry, seafood, peanuts, and legumes.

Thiamine

Thiamine or vitamin B1 plays a vital role in cell function and conversion of food into energy (source).

It may be effective in reducing the risk of cataracts (source, source).

A study of 2,900 Australians suggests that a diet high in thiamine can reduce your chances of developing cataracts by up to 40%. The study also suggests that protein, vitamin A and Niacin may help prevent cataracts (source).

Thiamine has also been suggested as a treatment option for the initial stages of DR.

A clinical study showed that 100mg of thiamine, taken three times daily, reduced the amount of albumin in the urine. This is an indicator of DR in type 2. (source).

Whole grains and meat are all good sources of thiamine. Thiamine can also be added to food like bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals (source).

Omega-3 Fatty acids

The type of polyunsaturated fat is called Omega-3 fatty acid. Your retina’s cell membranes contain a high level of DHA (source).

Omega-3 fats are good for your eyes and may help prevent diabetic retinopathy (DR).

A review of 31 studies found that diets high in oily fish, such as the Mediterranean diet, may help prevent DR. These findings are subject to further research but they suggest that fatty acids could be involved (source).

Dry eye syndrome patients may benefit from Omega-3 fats, which can help them produce more tears. This condition is caused by a deficiency in tears, which can cause dryness, discomfort, and blurred vision (source, source, source).

Rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids can be added to your diet, such as fish, flaxseed, and chia seeds. Cooking oils like canola or olive oil also contain omega-3s.

Zinc

Zinc helps maintain the health and integrity of the retina, cell membranes, and protein structure.

Zinc is necessary for vitamin A to move from the liver to reach the retina and produce melanin. Melanin protects the eyes against ultraviolet (UV) light.

The American Optometric Association states that zinc supplementation can help those with AMD or at-risk. The progression of advanced AMD could be slowed by taking 40-80mg of zinc daily, along with certain antioxidants. It may also help to reduce visual acuity by 19%.

Can Eye Vitamins Improve Vision?

This question has a complicated answer. There are many vitamin companies that want to sell their products. The $37 billion vitamin industry is unregulated. There are potential problems when you take too many supplements or combine them with other medications. Recent research has shown that vitamins don’t improve your health.

These findings are not applicable to your eyes. The National Eye Institute conducted the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies and AREDS2. These studies were focused on two eye diseases that are affecting millions of Americans over age: cataracts and age-related macular destruction.

Vitamins and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

AMD is a serious eye disease that causes vision loss. It is the leading cause of vision impairment in people over 50 years old. AMD can be either dry or wet. Dry AMD causes gradual vision loss.

Vitamins may be helpful for patients with AMD. The National Eye Institute recommends that you consume:

  • Copper 2 mg
  • Lutein 10 mg
  • Vitamin C 500 mg
  • Vitamin E 400 IU
  • Zeaxanthin 2mg
  • Zinc 80 mg

The AREDS2 and AREDS2 studies showed that severe vision loss due to AMD was reduced by 25% in six years.

Studies have shown that nutritional supplements can help people with AMD, either in the early or intermediate stages. Ask your eye doctor if you may be at risk. These vitamins can help if you’re at high risk, according to studies.

Can Vitamins Help Cataracts?

Each year, over 24 million Americans get cataracts. For AMD patients, the AREDS2 study recommends the same daily supplements in the exact same doses to prevent this eye disease.

There are conflicting studies showing that vitamin supplements do not have any benefits in the prevention of developing cataracts. One 2019 study concluded that “people who had taken these products for many years developed cataracts just like people who had taken a placebo.”

What can you do to protect your eyes from vitamins that may not be working as well?

How Can You Protect Your Vision?

Healthy eating is the best way to protect your eyesight. A wide range of vegetables and fruits at every stage of life can help you get the vitamins that you need to improve your overall health and your eyesight.

Protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays is also important. Sunscreen is a good way to protect your skin, but sunglasses are a better option. UV exposure can cause damage to the delicate eye structure, including the front and back. It can also lead to vision loss. Get a high-quality, wrap-around pair of sunglasses that provide 100% protection against the UV spectrum.

Limit the amount of time you spend on your computer. Eye strain can result from too much computer use or spending too much time on other screens. The 20/20/20 rule is to take 20-second breaks every 20 minutes in order to focus 20 feet away. This not only refocuses your eyes but also forces you to blink, something that we often forget to do when staring at blue screens all day.

Protect your eyesight by going to Ocala Eye for your annual preventive health checkup. We can examine your eyes and detect early signs of eye disease that may not be causing you symptoms. Even if your eyes aren’t bothering you right now, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken care of like the rest.

 

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