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Vitamins that help improve vision?

December 12, 2011

This is definitely a hot topic these days. I get asked almost everyday now about which vitamins can help to improve eye health.

Here is a list of vitamins and minerals which are thought to benefit the eyes.

Vitamins A, C, E and Zinc

Vitamins A, C and E can be found in the figs, oranges, kiwis, nuts, broccoli, mangoes, blackberries, papaya, grapefruit, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, green beans, green leafy vegetables, eggs and dairy products. Vitamin A is important for the health of the retina and helps with  good night vision.  Vitamin C helps prevent the formation of the accumulation of foreign molecules and has been thought to reduce the progression of cataracts, although the evidence for this is not strong. Vitamin E helps to reduce the progression of a serious disease of the retina known as Aged-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). The combination of Vitamins A, C, E  and zinc have been shown in the Aged Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) to help reduce the progression of ARMD. Read more about this large study in the National Eye Institute website.

Lutein, Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin have also been shown to help reduce the progression of ARMD. They protect against light damage by being very efficient absorbers of blue light, which is the most damaging to the eye. You could think of them as sun block for the macula (the central region of the retina).  A list of studies can be found on the All About Vision website about these nutrients. The AREDS 2 study is currently underway to investigate how lutein and zeaxanthin can help in advanced stages ARMD.

Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids

The correct ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids have been shown to help dry eye patients. These fatty acids can be found in flax seed oil and in fish oils. You may want to read this article in EyeWorld to learn more about how these fatty acids can help dry eyes.

Do you need to take the above supplements? Remember that these supplements are in doses higher than the amount found in normal diet. There are quite a number of different formulations available. It would be prudent to consult your doctor to ask if these supplements are suitable for you. Note that while most supplements do not cause problems (eg like Vitamin C, as excess amount of it can be excreted in the urine), but some supplements may lead to problems in certain individuals (like smokers should not take supplements with beta-carotene).

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