As we prepare to celebrate Cataract Awareness Month in June, our eye healthcare team here at Campus Eye Center has been thinking about the advantages that proper nutrition has on our eye health. It has been proven that better nutrition and lifestyle habits—not smoking, wearing sunglasses, keeping up with routine eye exams—can prevent or slow the progression of many eye diseases and conditions.
Whether it’s cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, or rarer eye health issues, eating right is a smart move in keeping these sight-robbing conditions at bay over time.
But what about eye supplements? Unfortunately, eating a balanced diet in these challenging times can be, well, a challenge! And that means nutritional eye supplements may be necessary to ensure you’re getting all the best vitamins and minerals in your diet to protect your good vision.
Today’s blog post reviews some of the specific vitamins and other recommended dietary supplements for eye health, which have been studied by researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI) and other healthcare experts for their effectiveness and safety.
While there is no substitute for eating a healthy diet, of course, the following minerals, elements, and more may be helpful additions to your daily diet. Note: Always consult your doctor before beginning any nutritional supplement regimen.
Vitamins C & E
What they are: Found in leafy greens and fruits, the antioxidant vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an essential component of the human diet. Mature adult men should get 90 mg/day of vitamin C, and women need 75 mg/day to stay generally healthy, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Vitamin E is mainly found in nuts and fortified cereals. Unfortunately, this is a vitamin that has proven more difficult for Americans to get enough of without supplementation. The FDA recommends 22 IU (international units) of vitamin E per day for both adult men and women. Eating a low-fat diet can significantly decrease vitamin E intake, and it’s often simply difficult to get enough of the vitamin from food.
How they promote healthy eyes: Both vitamin C and vitamin E have shown in studies that they may help reduce the formation of cataracts and slow the progression of AMD.
What it is: Beta-carotene is what is known as a provitamin A carotenoid, which is a component of the essential vitamin A contained in colorful fruits and vegetables, like carrots and sweet potatoes.
How it promotes healthy eyes: Beta-carotene and vitamin A generally have been shown to protect the cornea, as well as our mucous membranes throughout the body. This means it is essential for maintaining healthy eyes and may also be effective in preventing dry eye syndrome. Further studies suggest beta-carotene may be useful in slowing the development of AMD.
What it is: Like vitamin E, the elemental mineral selenium is found in nuts, as well as several other healthy foods, including many types of meat and fish. Also, similar to vitamin E, it can be difficult for many American adults to get enough of this powerful antioxidant.
How it promotes healthy eyes: One of selenium’s most significant claims to fame is that it can reduce what is known as “oxidative stress,” which is one of the factors that poor lifestyle choices—like smoking and over-indulging in alcohol—causes throughout our body’s cells. Selenium may help reduce the damage an earlier smoking habit—or even regular stress—causes our eyes over time.
What it is: In short, fish oil is a supplement that contains essential fatty acids found naturally in many seafood sources. These compounds are necessary parts of our diets as humans to maintain health, but because many people do not choose to eat seafood, they may find dietary supplementation to be a better option.
How it promotes healthy eyes: Fish oil contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two omega-3 fatty acids that are good for maintaining retinal health. If you have concerns about diabetic retinopathy, dry eye syndrome, or AMD, fish oil may be a good option for you.
Other Vitamins, Minerals, and Eye Supplements That May Help Prevent Eye Disease
Through formal studies known as the Age-Related Eye Diseases Studies (AREDS and AREDS2), the National Eye Institute has identified an optimal formula of nutritional supplements that have promising results in preventing eye disease, especially age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This formula includes the elements copper and zinc (which should typically be taken together for absorption), lutein, and zeaxanthin along with the vitamins C & E and beta-carotene that we reviewed above.
AREDS and AREDS2 multivitamin formulations are available commercially from a number of supplement brands.
EyePromise Multivitamins for Healthy Eyes
Here at Campus Eye Center, we work with EyePromise, a science-based eye supplement company that focuses on restoring and improving your eyes’ health. Their products are nutrient-rich and aimed at reducing glare and eye strain while improving night vision, reaction time, and processing speed.
EyePromise’s AREDS 2 Plus formula includes all of the components that the NEI has identified as best for eyes in a convenient, measured multivitamin formula. Ask our team about these supplements during your next appointment, or shop directly with EyePromise.
Campus Eye Center is Dedicated to Protecting Your Eye Health
At Campus Eye Center, our mission is to protect, preserve, and improve the vision of those we serve in Lancaster County. We achieve this by utilizing a patient-centered practice approach characterized by outstanding clinical, technical, surgical, and personal expertise and service.
Our team of experienced board-certified MDs, ophthalmologists, and doctors of optometry work hard to provide an excellent continuum of care from routine eye exams to advanced treatment options and surgical procedures. And we are also happy to advise on preventative eye healthcare, which should ideally take place during your yearly routine eye exam.
Not sure if you should come for an in-person appointment due to COVID-19 concerns? We are offering telemedicine appointments when appropriate and will continue to provide these types of appointments for the foreseeable future. Call us at (717)544-3900 today to learn more and schedule your next eye exam!