Vitamin D and Your Eyes
- Posted on: Dec 21 2020
Vitamin D and Your Eyes
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is synthesized by the body when exposed to UV. This vitamin is essential to bone health and calcium absorption, and is known to prevent rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Vitamin D also has an impact on the health of your eyes. In this blog, we will discuss some possible links to vitamin D deficiency and ocular health.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a vitamin that is produced by the body when UVB rays reach the skin. It is responsible for absorption of calcium in the gut, and adequate levels are necessary to ensure proper mineralization of the bones. Without enough vitamin D, bones may become thin, brittle and misshapen. This condition is known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Additionally, vitamin D is essential to muscle, nerve, and immune system function.
Vitamin D Deficiency
According to a report published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotheraoeutics, vitamin D deficiency (VDD) affects almost 50% of the population worldwide.
The following chart shows the recommended daily amount of vitamin D as listed by the National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (NIH/ODS):
|Life Stage||Recommended Amount|
|Birth to 12 months||10 mcg (400 IU)|
|Children 1–13 years||15 mcg (600 IU)|
|Teens 14–18 years||15 mcg (600 IU)|
|Adults 19–70 years||15 mcg (600 IU)|
|Adults 71 years and older||20 mcg (800 IU)|
|Pregnant and breastfeeding women||15 mcg (600 IU)|
Those at additional risk for vitamin D deficiency include:
- People who do not spend time outdoors
- People who live at northern latitudes
- Older adults
- Infants who are breastfed
- People with dark skin
- People with certain underlying health issues such as Crohn’s disease and celiac
- People who are obese
Vitamin D and Your Eyes
According to the American Optometric Association, emerging research has shown that vitamin D may protect against the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in adults. Studies are still being done, but there are a number of articles showing a possible link between vitamin D levels and some types of AMD, such as this 2018 article published in Oman Medical Journal and this article published in 2020.
Research suggests that vitamin D levels may play a role in dry eye treatment as well. A study published in the journal Cornea concluded that vitamin D supplementation increased efficacy of topical treatment when given in conjunction with specific eye drops, while another study published in the journal Nature concluded that vitamin D supplementation is an effective and useful treatment for patients with Dry Eye Syndrome.
It is important to note that while these articles provide information that may help to shed light on treatments for eye disease, they are not fully conclusive and additional research is necessary.
Foods High in Vitamin D
There are relatively few foods that contain vitamin D, so some foods are fortified with supplemental vitamin D. Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, and mackerel contain the highest amounts of naturally occurring vitamin D. It can also be found in smaller quantities in cod liver oil, egg yolks, and some types of mushrooms. Foods that are commonly fortified with vitamin D include milk, orange juice, non-dairy milk alternatives such as rice or soy milk, and some cereals. For a more complete list of foods that contain vitamin D, visit health.gov.
Vitamin D Toxicity and Medication Interaction
Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels is necessary for overall health, however too much vitamin D can be dangerous. When taken in excess, vitamin D can raise blood levels of calcium which leads to vascular and tissue calcification, with subsequent damage to the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys.
Additionally, vitamin D can interact with some medications, such as steroids, cholesterol lowering drugs, and seizure medications. These drugs can affect how the body metabolizes vitamin D.
It is important to talk to your doctor before making any dietary changes or taking any supplements. Your doctor can test vitamin D levels in your body and recommend the appropriate supplement dosage. Healthy eyesight starts with a healthy diet and regular eye checkups. To schedule an appointment for an eye exam, call or text (907) 328-2920. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, and don’t forget to check out the other entries on our website: www.mountainvieweyes.com/blog.
National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements “Vitamin D” https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
National Institute of Health National Library of Medicine “Vitamin D” https://medlineplus.gov/vitamind.html
Rathish Nair and Arun Maseeh, “Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin”, Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics (2012)
American Optometric Association, “Diet and Nutrition” https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y
Emrah Kan, Elif Kılıç Kan, and Özlem Ekşi Yücel “The Possible Link Between Vitamin D Levels and Exudative Age-related Macular Degeneration” Oman Medical Journal (2020)
Flavia Chiosi, Emma Minutillo, Michele Rinaldi, Otello Gallo, Gianluigi Manzi “The anti-oxidant effect of vitamin D and homotaurine on progression of early-intermediate age related macular degeneration” Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (2020)
Hwang, Jin Sun MS; Lee, Yoon Pyo MD; Shin, Young Joo MD “Vitamin D Enhances the Efficacy of Topical Artificial Tears in Patients With Dry Eye Disease” Cornea (2019)
Seok Hyun Bae, Young Joo Shin, Ha Kyoung Kim, Joon Young Hyon, Won Ryang Wee & Shin Goo Park “Vitamin D Supplementation for Patients with Dry Eye Syndrome Refractory to Conventional Treatment” Nature (2016)
“My Public Lands Roadtrip: Eagle Summit, Steese National Conservation Area, in Alaska” by mypubliclands is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC
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