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Beneficial Eye Nutrients

Eye NutrientsJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

If you’ve reached the fourth decade of life, you may have begun to notice vision changes or may have experienced other eye-related issues largely associated with growing older. Just as aging results in changes within the body, failing eyesight and a decline in eye health and function is not uncommon. Risks for developing eye and vision problems include smoking, a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration, chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as certain medications, visually demanding work and hazardous occupations. Common vision changes, such as presbyopia, changes in color perception, reduced tear production and a greater need for brighter light, are considered normal. However, vision loss, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are not.

Presbyopia, a reduced ability to focus, can be corrected with eye glasses or contacts, and a need for additional lighting for reading or close up work can be easily accommodated. Impaired tear production, known as dry eye syndrome, often results in uncomfortable symptoms of dryness, irritation, grittiness, burning, excessive tear production and potential vision loss. Proper hydration, whole food nutrition including fresh fruits, colorful vegetables, moderate amounts of fatty fish, and a daily intake of key nutrients can help to alleviate symptoms of dry eyes and decrease the risk of developing other eye conditions.

In surveys baby boomers choose vision as the most important of all five senses, although surprisingly many appeared unaware that key nutrients play a critical role in eye health and maintenance. Inflammation and reactive oxygen species, or free radicals that can damage DNA, RNA, proteins and other molecules within a cell, are often implicated in the etiology, or cause of disease. Diseases of the eyes are no exception. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is evidence that dietary antioxidants and anti-inflammatories may provide benefit in decreasing the risk of age-related eye disease. Nutrients such as antioxidant vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA all play key roles in eye health. National surveys have found that intake of these key nutrients from dietary sources falls below recommended guidelines.

  • Known as a highly effective antioxidant, vitamin C protects the body’s essential molecules, such as proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, DNA and RNA from free radical damage. Free radicals are generated through normal metabolism, as well as toxin exposure from pollutants and cigarette smoke. The eyes, in particular, have a high metabolic rate and therefore an added need for antioxidant protection.
  • Actually a family of eight fat-soluble antioxidants, vitamin E is an integral part of all cell membranes that are highly vulnerable to destruction by free radicals. As the retina is highly concentrated in fatty acids, vitamin E has beneficial effects on ocular health through its ability to neutralize free radicals. As well, vitamin E has been shown to improve blood vessel dilation, which helps to decease blood pressure.
  • Zinc is an essential component of many enzymes necessary for optimal eye metabolism. Zinc plays important roles in the structure of proteins and cell membranes, provides antioxidant protection, supports immune function and may also be involved in the formation of visual eye pigments in the retina. Although primarily a symptom of vitamin A deficiency, zinc insufficiency may also result in night blindness.
  • Commonly found in orange colored fruits and vegetables, beta-carotene is the primary dietary source of provitamin A. Research and clinical studies have shown that beta-carotene plays a role in age-related eye disease prevention. Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide. Insufficiency can also lead to night blindness and dry eye syndrome. Dietary sources of vitamin A are found in animal-derived foods as well as plant-based carotenoids that the body converts into vitamin A.
  • Unlike beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that do not have vitamin A activity. Of several dozen carotenoids found in blood and tissues, only lutein and zeaxanthin are found in the lens and the macula, the central region of the retina. In addition to their antioxidant role, these macular pigments limit retinal oxidative damage by absorbing incoming blue light. Sufficient intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with decreased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids have a number of actions relating to neuroprotective effects in the retina. DHA is found in high concentrations the eye where it may help to slow degeneration of the macula, the most common form of vision loss in older persons.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality nutritional supplements for healthy eye support:

Clinical Nutrients...Clinical Nutrients™ Eye Formula by Integrative Therapeutics®: This professional formulation is designed to provide specific nutritional support for proper eye function. Ingredients include vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, lutein, turmeric and bilberry. Free of sugar, salt, wheat, gluten, yeast, dairy and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

VisionPro NutrientsVisionPro Nutrients® by Pure Encapsulations®: This comprehensive, hypoallergenic multivitamin, mineral and polyphenol formulation provides nutritional support for eye integrity, normal tear production and healthy vision maintenance. Other ingredients include an eye protect complex and a macular synergy complex with lutein and zeaxanthin.

BioTearsBioTears® by BioSyntrx®: This popular product provides nutritional support for normal tear film formation. BioTears® synergistic tear-specific formula includes nutrient cofactors that support the structure, function and production of eye lubricants. Ingredients include vitamins A, C, D and E, turmeric, black currant seed oil, EPA and DHA.

Nutrients for the aging eye. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3693724/
8 Nutrients That Will Optimize Your Eye Health. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-nutrients-for-eyes
Omega-3 for your eyes. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/omega-3-for-your-eyes
Top 10 foods for healthy eyes. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321226.php

Protect Your Eye Health With Nutrition

Eye_HealthJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks

Beautiful eyes attract attention and are an incredibly useful form of natural communication. A wink or a rapid blinking of the eyelashes has been known to set countless hearts aflutter. Eye contact allows for numerous non-verbal signals that can indicate interest, desire, affection, aggression, anger and a sea of other positive and negative emotions. While many may think of ways to make their eyes ever more attractive through the use of makeup, surgical intervention or colored lenses, underlying eye health is more important than beauty. When we’re young adults, we may not think a lot about the health of our eyes beyond an annual eye exam. The aging population, however, may be far more aware of the risks of age-related deteriorating eye health.

Degenerative eye disease such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and cataracts all contribute to age-related vision loss. As with most age-related diseases, prevention strategies are the best way to avoid the risks of developing chronic eye conditions. The good news is that research shows a strong connection between eye health maintenance and healthy lifestyle habits, especially good nutrition, not smoking and a sustained healthy weight. To aid in maintaining healthy vision well into your golden years, it’s particularly important to feed your eyes specific nutrients through a combination of diet and supplements.

A diet rich in high antioxidant colorful fruits and vegetables, especially reds, greens and blues, contains distinct nutrients that benefit the eyes as well as overall health. These nutrients are essential to eye health and may possibly improve eyesight and prevent or slow the progression of vision related conditions. Those of us with a steady diet of processed and fast foods are unlikely to obtain the daily recommended amount of vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain eye and overall health. Fortunately, along with a healthy diet, high quality supplements and nutraceuticals can assure that you are getting the full complement of nutrients. What are these nutrients and what is their role in eye health?

Phytochemicals, flavonoids and polyphenols – Plant chemicals aid overall health and wellness and represent the greatest deficiency in the American diet. In order to maintain optimal health and vision, add a variety of vegetables and fruits to your daily diet to take advantage of their health promoting and disease fighting properties.

Astaxanthin – There’s good reason to supplement with this powerful antioxidant. As a naturally occurring carotenoid, astaxanthin supports eye health by its ability to cross barriers in order to reach the retina. Clinical trials have shown that astaxanthin aids diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration, helps fight eye fatigue and reduces inflammation.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids – Along with other numerous health benefits, omega-3’s appear to promote healthy eyes and vision, provide protection against age-related oxidative damage and benefit dry eye syndrome by supporting healthy tissue moisture and tear production. Scientific evidence supports omega-3’s for proper visual development, retinal function and maintenance of eye tissue throughout life.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin – Studies have shown these eye friendly nutrients reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases including AMD and cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in large amounts in the macula and the peripheral retina of the eyes, function as antioxidants and filter out eye damaging blue light.

Vitamin A – Not only essential for maintaining healthy skin and a healthy immune system, vitamin A aids in supporting retinal health and plays a role in producing the tears that moisturize the eyes. Vitamin A also helps prevent night blindness and inhibits the formation of cataracts.

Vitamin C – Evidence suggests that vitamin C’s antioxidant properties may lower the risk of developing cataracts and when taken in combination with other essential nutrients, can slow the progression of AMD, cataract formation and visual acuity loss.

Vitamin E – Vitamin E reduces the progression of cataract formation and in combination with vitamin C and zinc, can slow the progression of advanced AMD in individuals at high risk for the disease. As the body does not synthesize vitamin E, daily intake through diet or supplementation is important for good eye health maintenance.

Zinc – Necessary to help in the absorption of antioxidants and in the transport of vitamin A, zinc is highly concentrated in the eyes, particularly the retina. Impaired vision and poor night vision are linked to zinc deficiency. As another nutrient not synthesized by the body, zinc must be obtained through dietary or supplemental sources to help slow the progression of AMD and to protect against night blindness.  

The following highly rated, advanced formulas support eye and vision health:

Eye & Body Complete (Formerly Macula Complete)
Eye & Body Complete by BioSyntrx – This high energy, broad spectrum, properly balanced, all-in-one formula is designed to support optimal eye, body and mitochondrial energy function with vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phytochemicals.
VisionPro Nutrients
VisionPro Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations – This comprehensive multivitamin/mineral formula is designed to support ocular heath, visual function, tear production, eye integrity and overall health. Non-GMO formulation.
Optic-Plus by Biotics Research – This formula provides vitamins, minerals, antioxidant enzymes, key carotenoids and phytochemicals in support of healthy ocular function.
Lutein-Plus (83031)Lutein-Plus (83031) by Douglas Laboratories – This product contains lutein naturally sourced from marigold flowers along with a proprietary blend of green phytonutrients and carotenoids. These ingredients support overall eye health and provide protection from free radical damage and oxidative stress. Gluten, soy and dairy free formula.
Nutrition for Healthy Eyes.  http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/nutrition_summary.htm
Adding Powerful Antioxidants To Your Diet Can Improve Your Eye Health.  http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y
Healthy Eyes – Eating Right for the Eyes.  http://www.eyehealthweb.com/healthy-eyes/
5 Reasons to Take Astaxanthin Every Day. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzy-cohen-rph/astaxanthin_b_2750910.html
Look to Fruits and Vegetables for Good Eye Health. https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/0911/