Foods you eat and the dietary supplements you take affect your overall health as well as the health of your eyes. Eating a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and lutein can help keep eye problems at bay. All healthy diets should include ample amounts of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables. In fact, experts recommend that you consume at least five to nine servings of these foods daily.
Two large, five-year clinical trials called the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2) have provided valuable information about the benefits of vision supplements.
Lutein and zeaxanthin supplements can act like a pair of sunglasses for the macula lutea, filtering some high-energy light exposure, lowering AMD risk, and improving visual acuity. They also may help with night driving and computer use by improving contrast sensitivity and glare recovery. And they prevent oxidative damage, potentially thwarting dry eye and cataract, or lens clouding. The antioxidant effects of beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and zinc could prevent worsening of existing, moderate AMD.
Newer studies show vitamin A lowers the risk of developing more severe AMD, and vitamin E could prevent cataracts and glaucoma. Regular consumption of fatty fish, nuts, or omega-3 supplements seems to reduce retina damage, lowering AMD. A recent study found people who took omega-3 supplements produced more tears, encouraging news for people with dry eye.
According to experts a high-quality eye and vision supplement should contain at least the following ingredients for optimum effect:
- vitamin C (250 to 500 mg))
- vitamin E (200-400 IU)
- zinc (25 to 40 mg)
- copper (2 mg)
- Zeaxanthin, 500 mcg
- Selenium, 100 mcgg
- Lutein, 10 mg
- Calcium, 500 mg
- Thiamin, 2 mg
- Folic acid, 800 mcg
- omega-3 fatty acids (2,000 mg)
- N-acetyl cysteine, 100 mg
- Alpha lipoic acid, 100 mg
Taking eye vitamins and vision supplements generally is very safe. But be sure to check with your doctor first if you are on medications, are pregnant or nursing, or are considering taking higher daily doses than those listed above.
Also, if you can’t find a single product that contains all or most of these nutrients, they are available individually.