Supplements and Your Eyes

Supplements and Your Eyes

Supplement Pills in various colors

An important part of keeping your eyes healthy is eating a balanced diet. Studies have shown that diets high in leafy green vegetables and fatty fish support healthy eyes and vision. But sometimes eating the right foods can be hard, especially in Alaska where long winters can make fresh, nutritious foods hard to come by. Many people turn to supplements to supply the nutrients they may not be able to get from diet alone. In this blog, we’ll discuss what nutrients are best for your eyes, and whether supplements are a good way to get them. 

Vitamins and minerals

According to the American Optometric Association(AOA), foods high in vitamins A, C, D, and E, and zinc may reduce the risk of some eye diseases, such as Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Foods that contain one or more of these nutrients include:

  • Leafy greens such as kale and spinach
  • Salmon, tuna and other cold water fatty fishes
  • Whole milk
  • Beef and chicken liver
  • Carrots and sweet potatoes
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Nuts
  • Avocados
  • Beans and lentils

Antioxidants

Additionally, research suggests that a diet high in antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of developing AMD. These antioxidants, known as carotenoids, are found in high concentrations in the macula, and are estimated to absorb up to 90% of blue light, protecting the eye from damage. They are found in foods such as spinach, kale, peas, corn, and egg yolks. 

Eye Vitamins

There are some nutrients on the market that are specifically designed for ocular health. A commonly recommended eye vitamin is AREDS or AREDS II which have been studied in clinical trials sponsored by the National Eye Institute. These supplements were shown to reduce the risk of progression from intermediate to advanced AMD by about 25 percent in patients who already had AMD. They were not shown to prevent AMD. 

There are other eye vitamins that may be beneficial as well. Popular brands include Bausch and Lomb Ocuvite, and Systane I-Caps. These formulas may contain similar supplements to AREDS, but have not been tested in the same type of clinical trials nor have they been proven to produce the same results. 

Eye vitamins are generally very safe, but they may not be appropriate for everyone. People who smoke or used to smoke should take extra caution when choosing an eye health supplement, as some products contain beta carotene which increases the risk of lung cancer in these individuals. Anyone who is considering adding an eye vitamin to their diet should talk to their doctor to determine if these vitamins are appropriate. 

Supplementing Individual Nutrients

If you eat a healthy diet, you may be getting most of the nutrients you need for optimal eye health from your food alone. But even the healthiest eaters may find themselves deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is common in Alaska, where our northern latitude exposes us to less sunshine than those at lower latitudes. The best way to know if you are deficient in Vitamin D or other nutrients is by talking to your doctor. They may run tests to determine your nutrient levels, and they will recommend an appropriate supplement and dosage. Taking too much of a supplement can sometimes be dangerous, and some supplements may interfere with medications, so it is important to work with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet. 

The best way to get eye-healthy nutrients is through diet, but sometimes we can’t get enough of these nutrients from food alone. Talk to your eye doctor or your primary care physician to determine if supplements may be beneficial for your eye health. To schedule an appointment with an eye doctor, call or text (907) 328-2920. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, and don’t forget to check out all of the entries on our website at www.mountainvieweyes.com/blog.

Written By: Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC

Resources:

https://www.macular.org/lutein

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5611842/

https://www.nei.nih.gov/research/clinical-trials/age-related-eye-disease-studies-aredsareds2/about-areds-and-areds2

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

Posted in: Eye Health Guide

 
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