Look After Your Eyes With These Key Ingredients
Taking care of our eyes is important, but often overlooked.
The good news is that there are many different nutrients and foods which are thought to help protect eye health. In this blog, nutritionist Jenny Logan looks at the best natural ways to support healthy eyes.
Lutein, which is found in green leafy vegetables, is widely accepted these days as being vital to eye health. It is said to protect against eye strain, failing vision and macular degeneration. Many opticians now recommend that people deemed to be at risk of developing macular degeneration take around 10mg Lutein each day. One study on the efficacy of lutein in eye health reported:
“When we looked at just those participants in the study who took a formulation with lutein and zeaxanthin, their risk of developing advanced AMD (Advanced Macular Degeneration) over the five years of the study was reduced by about 18 percent, compared with participants who took an AREDS formulation with beta-carotene but no lutein or zeaxanthin. Further analysis showed that participants with low dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin at the start of the study, but who took a formulation with lutein and zeaxanthin during the study, were about 25 percent less likely to develop advanced AMD compared with participants with similar dietary intake who did not take lutein and zeaxanthin.” *
Bilberry also has a reputation for supporting eye health. It is thought to be helpful in improving night vision, and research has also shown that it could be helpful to support people suffering with macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
The legend goes like this: British Royal Air Force pilots, after eating bilberry jam for tea, bombed the enemy during WWII with devastating accuracy – their night vision heightened by the powers of the inky blue fruit. That story has never been confirmed, however, it is thought that this forms the basis for the use of Bilberry in eye health formulations.
This mineral is known to be important in supporting good vision. Low levels of zinc have always been associated with poor vision, so when looking at the eyes it is very important to ensure zinc levels are good. Zinc also contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there are high levels of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are caused by frying foods, alcohol, tobacco smoke, pesticides and air pollutants, and can cause damage to cells – including those in the eyes – through a process called oxidation. Zinc can help to protect the cells against this damage.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
This is a nutrient which has only really been utilized in last few years, even though it is thought that it was the first vitamin to be discovered! Alpha Lipoic Acid has been said to help promote healthy blood sugar levels, therefore could potentially protect diabetics from the development of diabetic eye disorders. It has also been researched and said to be helpful for people suffering with glaucoma, with one report stating that it may improve vision in people suffering with the condition.**
*AREDS2 Research Group. “Lutein/Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Age-Related Macular Degeneration. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA, published online May 5, 2013. **Study: “Lipoic acid as a means of metabolic therapy of open-angle glaucoma.” Filina AA, Davydova NG, Endrikhovskiĭ SN, Shamshinova AM. Vestn Oftalmol. 1995 Oct-Dec;111(4):6-8.
Written By Jenny Logan DNMed. (Jenny is a Nutritional Therapist who has worked with clients in Health Foods Stores and Private Clinics for over 20 years.)