9 Supplements for Eye Health

January 17, 2024

9 Supplements for Eye Health

Many believe that the eyes are windows to the soul, but they are also complex organs that require proper care and attention. The risk of developing eye-related health issues increases as we age, and adopting a proactive approach is essential to maintaining good vision. While a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is crucial for overall health, certain supplements can support eye health.

AREDS Supplements for Inhibiting Age-Related Vision Problems

The National Eye Institute (NEI) initiated the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) in 1992. The five-year study included 4757 participants ranging in age from 55 to 80 with varying degrees of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). NEI designed the study to investigate whether nutritional supplements could affect the progression of AMD and cataracts. Specifically, they hoped to determine if specific nutrients could reduce the risk of developing advanced stages of these eye conditions. The first AREDS study identified that a combination of vitamins E and C, beta-carotene, and zinc showed significant promise in reducing the risk of age-related eye conditions. It’s a powerful blend of antioxidants and minerals that support overall eye health. [1 - 5]

Vitamin C and E: Antioxidant Powerhouses and Allies

Vitamin C and vitamin E are potent antioxidants that work together to neutralize harmful free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress in the eyes. These vitamins synergize to inhibit the cellular damage and inflammation that increase the risk of developing conditions like AMD. Vitamin C helps regenerate vitamin E, enhancing its antioxidant capabilities. When Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, it donates electrons to neutralize free radicals, which oxidizes it. Once oxidized, Vitamin E needs help to return to its active form. Vitamin C steps in as a reducing agent in this process, meaning it can donate electrons to regenerate oxidized Vitamin E back to its optimal antioxidative state. This interaction helps maintain a continuous cycle of antioxidant activity. Vitamin C recycles Vitamin E by restoring its electron-depleted form, allowing Vitamin E to continue its role in protecting cells from oxidative damage. Combining these vitamins helps maintain the structural integrity of eye cells and supports overall visual function. [1, 2, 6, 7]

Beta-Carotene: Precursor to Vitamin A

Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, a crucial nutrient for eye health. Vitamin A is essential for the retina to function and helps form the light-detecting receptors in the eyes. In the AREDS formulation, beta-carotene acts as provitamin A, supporting the production of the visual pigments in the retina. These pigments are essential for low-light and color vision. Beta-carotene also possesses antioxidant properties, providing an additional protective layer against oxidative eye damage. [1, 2, 8]

Zinc: Mineral Support for Eye Health

Zinc is an essential trace mineral for numerous physiological processes, including those related to eye health. It supports the enzymes that convert retinol (a form of vitamin A) to its active form, retinal. Converting retinol into retinal is essential to regenerate the photopigments in the retina. Photopigments are light-sensitive compounds that enable light detection and are crucial for normal vision, especially in low-light conditions. The retina contains high zinc concentrations, and adequate levels are essential for maintaining retinal cell health. [1, 9 - 12]

Additional Supplements for Eye Health Based on AREDS2

NEI conducted a follow-up study, AREDS2, from 2006 through 2013 to build upon and modify the original study. AREDS2 identified several other supplements that support long-term eye health. [13]

Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Protective Pigments

AREDS2 opted to exclude beta-carotene and replace it with lutein and zeaxanthin, as high beta-carotene intake increases lung cancer risk in smokers. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that accumulate in the retina and help protect against harmful high-energy light waves like ultraviolet rays and blue light. These compounds are crucial for maintaining macular health. Leafy green vegetables have high lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations, but supplements can provide an additional source for those who struggle to meet their daily requirements through diet alone. [1, 2, 14 - 16]

Although copper is an essential mineral for various bodily functions, AREDS2 didn’t include it for specific eye health reasons. High levels of zinc can interfere with copper absorption, and the second study incorporated 2mg of copper to offset the potential zinc-related copper deficiency risk. [2]

Other Supplements for Eye Health

Other supplements outside of those examined in the AREDS trials can provide eye health support, such as:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are essential for maintaining the structural integrity of cell membranes in the eyes. Research also shows that individuals suffering from dry eyes may benefit from taking omega-3 supplements like fish oil capsules, as omega-3s help boost tear fluid formation. PureBulk also carries chlorella, a vegan-friendly omega-3 source. [17 - 23]

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Many refer to vitamin B1 as the anti-stress vitamin because it helps improve the body’s stress resiliency and strengthens the immune system during stressful situations. However, it’s also an antioxidant that supports eye health by protecting cells from free radical-induced oxidative stress and damage. Vitamin B1 is also essential for nerve health, and deficiencies can cause optic nerve swelling, blurry vision, and eventual vision loss. [24 - 29]

The outcomes of the AREDS study and its follow-up, AREDS2, reshaped our understanding of nutritional interventions for promoting eye health substantially. Nutritional deficiencies can wreak havoc on ocular well-being, and supplements can help bridge nutrient gaps. While your primary source of vitamins and minerals should be your diet, it's important to recognize that, according to the National Eye Institute’s documentation, it’s not feasible to achieve the specific amounts used in the AREDS studies through diet alone. The AREDS and AREDS2 studies demonstrated nutritional supplements' significant and lasting effects on long-term eye health, offering a tangible strategy for reducing the risk of developing age-related eye conditions.

References and research

Purchase options
Select a purchase option to pre order this product
Countdown header
Countdown message