When it comes to our eyes, we often take them for granted. But as we age serious conditions can develop that inhibit our ability to see or can even cause blindness. The good news is that lifestyle changes and several over-the-counter supplements can help lower the risks of having the conditions or improve the outcome.
Two of the most common eye maladies to strike as we age are cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye, and are extremely common in older adults. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. It occurs when there is deterioration of light-sensitive cells in the macula area of the retina.
In 2001 and again in 2013 the National Eye Institute performed studies called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 1 & 2 that tested supplements for the eyes. Taken together, the studies recommended the following for lowering risk and improving outcomes of both cataracts and AMD.
Vitamin C, 500 mg – This vitamin supports blood vessels, and can lower risk of cataracts by as much as 64 percent.
Vitamin E, 400 IU – This antioxidant vitamin may help prevent or delay the onset of AMD and cataracts.
Zinc, 80 mg – This mineral helps your body better absorb and use Vitamin A, long known to reduce inflammation and improve eye health. Zinc also is a powerful antioxidant that protects against cell damage.
Copper, 2 mg – (to prevent a copper deficiency caused by zinc supplementation).
Lutein, 10 mg & Zeaxanthin, 2 mg – These are both antioxidant carotenoids found in plants. They help filter out blue wavelengths of light that can be harmful to the eyes.
Other supplements that may be helpful for eye health include:
Vitamin A – It can reduce inflammation, protect the eye’s surface, and improve night vision.
B Vitamins – They can help lower inflammation in the eye and therefore reduce vascular problems in the eye retina.
Omega 3 fatty acids – Both DHA and EPA improve retinal function and visual development. They also help with dry eye degradation of the retina.
Some of these you may already know, but if you don’t here goes:
Don’t smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels.
Protect your eyes from ultraviolet light by wearing sunglasses when outdoors and avoid staring directly into bright lights.
Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, preventing diabetes.
Use a humidifier at home if your house is dry, especially in winter.
Drink plenty of water.