Eye Health and Nutrition

eyeBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

As we age, genetics and certain lifestyle factors such as smoking, sun exposure and poor nutrition can increase the risk of developing age-related eye disease and vision loss.  Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are necessary for overall good health are also crucial for vision health and may reduce your risk of developing sight-robbing conditions such as cataracts or macular degeneration.  Antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and omega-3 essential fatty acids aid in a variety of ways, from alleviation of dry eye syndrome symptoms to eye sight protection and glaucoma prevention.  Proper nutrition and regular eye exams are essential to maintaining vision health and the tiny blood vessels that support and feed the eyes.  Following a healthy lifestyle not only protects your health, it can also help protect your vision. 

Exercise improves blood circulation, allowing more oxygen to reach the eyes.  Many eye diseases are linked to other health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.  Studies show that people who exercise at moderate levels on a regular basis reduce their risk of developing age-related diseases.  Exercise has been shown to lower intraocular pressure and improve blood flow to the optic nerve and retina. 

Wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from exposure to the sun’s high energy visible (HEV) radiation (or “blue light”) that over time can contribute to macular degeneration and cataracts, leading causes of visual impairment.  Choose sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays.  For the most HEV eye protection, choose sunglasses with bronze, copper or reddish brown lenses. 

Take a break from the computer screen to allow your eyes to rest and reduce eye strain.   Computer vision syndrome results from high visual demand and includes a group of eye and vision related problems such as dry eye, blurred vision and eye strain.  Rest breaks, anti-glare screens and frequent blinking all help to relieve computer vision syndrome. 

Smoking causes high levels of oxidative stress that can significantly increase the risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts, dry eye syndrome and optic nerve damage.  Quitting smoking at any age can reduce the risk of developing age related macular degeneration. 

Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which can lead to diabetic eye disease or glaucoma.  Obesity has been linked with age-related cataracts and glaucoma and may be a risk factor for many ocular conditions. 

Pay attention to nutrition to ensure you are getting important eye nutrients in order to maintain and protect vision health.  A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens, and high in omega-3 fatty acids is vital for eye health maintenance. 

Vitamins and minerals known to benefit eye health include:

Beta-Carotenes, naturally occurring plant pigments, act as vitamin A precursors and as antioxidants that help protect cells against the damaging effects of free radicals.  Getting sufficient amounts of beta-carotene can lower the risk for developing macular degeneration and other age-related disease such as coronary artery disease or stroke. 

Vitamin A is essential to proper retinal function.  It aids the eyes in adapting to lighting changes, preventing night blindness.  Vitamin A inhibits the formation of cataracts and helps reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. 

Vitamin C and bioflavonoids support the skin and blood vessels, including delicate capillaries of the retina.  Long-term vitamin C consumption may help reduce cataract risk and vision loss from macular degeneration.  Vitamin C is used in the treatment and prevention of glaucoma as it helps maintain collagen eye tissue.  Bioflavonoids help maintain the health of the cornea and eye blood vessels.  Bioflavonoids may also help to reduce inflammatory eye disease and diabetic retinopathy. 

Vitamin D plays a huge role in disease prevention.  Recent research shows that vitamin D enhances corneal epithelial barrier function, providing protection for the cornea.  Vitamin D helps to reduce inflammation and improves visual acuity in aging eyes. 

Vitamin E, a super antioxidant, has been associated with cataract prevention and slowed cataract growth.  It helps prevent or reduce the risk of age related diseases such as coronary artery disease, Alzheimer’s disease and some types of cancers. 

Omega-3 essential fatty acids help to protect against age-related oxidative damage.  Large bodies of scientific evidence show that omega-3 essential fatty acids are among the most important nutrients for the development, function and health of the eye tissues.  They not only promote healthy eyes and vision, they support healthy tissue moisture and tear production, which helps to alleviate dryness associated with dry eye syndrome. 

Lutein  and Zeaxanthin are naturally occurring plant pigments that are found in high concentrations in the macula of the human eye.  These antioxidants guard against the damaging effects of free radicals and help to block blue light from reaching the retina, reducing the risk of developing macular degeneration from light-induced oxidative damage.  Lutein forms a protective shield that helps to prevent the formation of cataracts. 

Selenium and Zinc are two key minerals that support the oxidation process by aiding the absorption of antioxidants.  Zinc aids in the absorption of Vitamin A and helps protect against macular degeneration and night blindness.  Selenium helps the body absorb vitamin E. 

Chromium in healthy levels helps to maintain balanced intraocular pressure in the eyes.  Low levels of chromium may increase the risk of developing glaucoma. 

Zinc, essential for both immune and digestive function, aids in the absorption of antioxidants that help prevent eye disease.  Zinc is found in high concentrations in the retina and helps maintain proper eye function. 

Professional Supplement Center’s many excellent products that support eye health include:

Macula Complete
Macula Complete by BioSyntrx provides broad spectrum support for total body and eye health.  This supplement contains premium vitamins, properly balanced minerals and antioxidant phytonutrients that address nutritional deficiencies associated with age-related diseases of the retina and body. 
4 Sight
4 Sight by Ortho Molecular is a natural eye health supplement that contains antioxidants, herbs and nutrients for the maintenance and support of the eyes and the macula.   
VisionPro Nutrients
Vision Pro Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations is a comprehensive multivitamin and mineral complex for maintaining healthy vision and supporting ocular health. 
Chromium Picolinate 250 mcg (7417)
Chromium Picolinate  250 mcg (7417) by Douglas Laboratories supports blood sugar metabolism and healthy intraocular pressure. 

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