Patients often ask whether taking nutritional supplements will protect their vision and prevent or slow the progression of degenerative eye diseases.
Research has shown that certain vitamins and minerals support ocular health, and while it’s possible to get these nutrients exclusively through a carefully planned diet, few people eat the variety of foods necessary and end up with deficiencies that can be addressed with supplementation.
Research has also shown that specific combinations of vitamins and minerals can slow the progression of eye disease; in the case of age-related macular degeneration, I’ve seen supplements in conjunction with healthy lifestyle choices all but stop the disease in its tracks. Marilyn D., whom I’ve been treating since 1996, is one such patient for whom supplements have played an indispensable role in disease management. (Read her testimonial.)
Patients like Marilyn who have an eye disease or risk factors associated with eye disease should consult with their eye doctor to determine the best supplement for their particular case, as eye supplements come in a variety of formulas to address specific conditions.
For most other patients, I recommend an “eye and body” formula that provides nutritional support for the entire body, including the eyes. I have seen the best results with MaxiVision Eye & Body Formula, available at Insight Eyecare in White Oak and Kilgore as well as the vitamin aisle at local stores. Also, I generally recommend powder- or gel-filled capsules over a hard pill because they break down and enter the bloodstream more efficiently.
Beta-carotene; vitamins A, C, E, B2; and minerals zinc, lutein and selenium have long been regarded as the most important vitamins and minerals for overall eye health. In the past few years, a growing body of research suggests that vitamin D may be just as important, as it protects against age-related eye problems.
Other important nutrients for eye health include Vitamin B complex, bioflavonoids, astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, phytochemical antioxidants, bilberry, black currant and omega-3 fatty acids.
Eye supplement manufacturers typically follow the National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Studies, which led to the development of the scientifically based AREDS and AREDS2 formulations.
Keep in mind that taking vitamins can fill some gaps but won’t make up for poor dietary and lifestyle choices. Supplements are designed to do what their name suggests: they supplement a healthy diet to make sure you get all the nutrients you need for good ocular and overall health.
Dr. Jeff Pinkerton
I care for you.