More than 4.2 million U.S. adults are legally blind or suffer from a low vision in the better-seeing eye.
These are the figures quoted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Refractive errors, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma are debilitating conditions that cut back immensely on the quality of life.
The tech generation of this millennium is more at risk of poor eye health.
They are spending more time on smart screens than appreciating the great outdoors.
COVID-19 lockdowns have forced a majority of us stuck indoors, where most of the waking hours are spent scrolling on smart screens and absorbing the damaging blue light.
Age-related eye disease studies are emphasizing on the importance of supplements for the eye.
Supplement for eyes
The researchers work arduously to reveal science-backed ingredients that are suggested to improve eye health.
If you follow your grandma’s advice of eating carrots to maintain eye health, keep at it.
Yet know that dietary sources of vitamins and minerals do not suffice the requirements of our body, especially in high-risk cases (those who work endlessly behind computer screens or those suffering from a chronic disease with eye complications as diabetes, etc.).
Let us have a look at the following herbs and vitamins you can take for your eyes:
- Lutein and zeaxanthin
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
- Vitamin C
- Omega 3 fatty acid
- Vitamin A
- Gamma-Linolenic Acid
- Vitamin E
Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow plant pigments called carotenoids.
These carotenoids are also part of the macula of the retina. The macula is the light-sensitive layer of our eye. The macular pigments, lutein and zeaxanthin, act as antioxidants and function to absorb the damaging ultraviolet and blue light rays.
The macular content of lutein and zeaxanthin is directly proportional to the dietary intake of the two carotenoids.
An observational study in middle-aged and older adults concluded that supplementing with six mg of lutein and/ or zeaxanthin per day helped reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by 43%.
Researchers confirmed that increasing the intake of lutein and zeaxanthin (either as dietary elements or a supplement) helped decrease the risk of eye disease.
Thiamine (vitamin B1)
Vitamin B1 is known as the anti-stress vitamin, and it has a potent anti-inflammatory action.
Another study confirmed that taking thiamine supplement helps to safeguard against age-related lens opacifying diseases as cataracts.
Zinc is one of the primary minerals enlisted in the supplement formulation used in age-related eye studies two owing to its potent antioxidant properties.
Zinc is naturally present in the eyes, where it protects the eye against cellular damage. Research has provided evidence for this trace mineral to have significant physiological functions in the eye’s retina, including the retinal pigment epithelium.
Zinc is believed to regulate photoreceptor plasma membranes via its interactions with taurine and vitamin A.
Zinc modifies the light-rhodopsin reaction and synaptic transmission in the eye besides serving as an antioxidant.
The deficiency of zinc leads to night blindness as the mineral regulates the formation of pigments involved in preserving vision.
In another prospective, randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled study, oral zinc supplementation was seen to cut back the risk of age-related macular degeneration drastically.
The research investigated the benefits of zinc supplementation on visual acuity in 151 subjects with macular degeneration. The group supplemented with zinc had significantly less visual loss than the placebo group at the end of the study period, about 24 months.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and protects the cells from the oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body.
Vitamin C is concentrated in high amounts in the aqueous humor (the liquid in the outermost part of the eye) of the eye compared to other body fluids. These levels of vitamin C are directly proportional to the amount of dietary intake of the vitamin.
Many studies show the role of vitamin C in preventing cataracts. Many observational studies second the role of vitamin C in lowering the risk of developing cataracts. One such study showed that a daily intake of a high dose of vitamin C, about 490 mg, reduced the risk of cataracts by 75%.
Yet another study confirmed the benefits of regular supplementation with vitamin C in reducing the risk of cataracts by almost 45%.
Researchers used Vitamin C was in the supplement designed in AREDS. According to one of its study reports, a daily dose of vitamin C suggested preventing the progression of age-related macular degeneration by 25%,
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids found prevalently in fatty fish are also present in large amounts in the photoreceptors cells of the retina. Omega-3 fatty acids are of three types;
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Out of these, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA helps in the development of retinal cells. That is why any deficiency in early developmental years can hamper the vision in children. Infants on formula milk that contains DHA have healthy vision later in life, as per some studies.
DHA also reduces inflammation and helps heal, recover, and regenerate retinal and corneal cells after UV damage and age-related deterioration.
Sufficient dietary intake of DHA and EPA is associated with a reduced risk of age-related macular disorders.
A study involving middle-aged and older adults with diabetes who supplemented with 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids found that such an intervention reduced the risk of diabetic retinopathy.
Vitamin A is the most important vitamin of all for eye health, yet its deficiency is one of the prevalent causes of blindness globally. It helps maintain corneal health. It is also an important element of rhodopsin, a protein that upgrades vision in low-light situations.
Animal-based foods are the best sources of vitamin A. The vitamin can also be obtained from provitamin A carotenoids like beta-carotene found in some fruits and vegetables (carrots, kale, spinach, etc.).
Vitamin A deficiency is linked to dry eyes, night blindness, corneal ulcers, and other eye conditions. In fact, dry eye is the earliest yet often overlooked sign of vitamin A deficiency in children.
Vitamin A is important to keep eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration at bay.
Gamma-linolenic acid is a type of omega-6 fatty acid found prevalently in evening primrose oil and starflower oil. The fatty acid exhibits potent anti-inflammatory properties and is suggested to reduce symptoms of dry eye.
In one study, oral supplementation with gamma-linolenic acid was observed to reduce contact lens-related dry eye conditions.
The retina of the eye contains fatty acids. Optimal intake of fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins helps to preserve retinal health. One such vitamin is the E vitamin, which also possesses potent antioxidant properties.
Though research results are conflicting for the use of vitamin E for eye health, some studies suggest its benefits. An analysis states that consuming more than 7 mg of vitamin E daily may reduce the risk of cataracts by 6%.
Taking care of eye health is important to maintain the quality of life.
Several vitamins and minerals present in dietary items help to address the issue.
Supplements play important role in preserving eye health by meeting any deficiency.
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