Back to Health and Wellness

Can Taking Vitamins Help Prevent Eye Disease?

Posted on May 5th, 2022

There are supplements that can protect your ocular health

Just as eating certain foods can bolster your eyes, there are also supplements you can take that will enhance your ocular health. Ingesting vitamins and minerals in the form of food is of course very important to overall well being, but you can also take specific supplements that will ensure you are directly benefiting your vision. 

Large studies conducted by the National Eye Institute—which focused on subjects who already had moderate-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD)—found that supplementation of specific vitamins can reduce the risk of progression of AMD, and stave off cataracts

What the science says about eyes and supplements

Participants in one of the studies took one of four supplements daily for a period of five years. The study found that the risk of serious vision loss related to AMD was reduced by 25%. It also demonstrated that participants with moderate AMD experienced a slowing of their condition upon taking supplements. 

Generally speaking, deficiencies in certain nutrients can make a person more susceptible to developing eye conditions, and taking supplements is an effective way to lessen that risk. 

Supplements to sample for optimal eye health

There are several vitamins and minerals, as well as powerful antioxidants, that have been associated with optimal eye health in scientific studies. These same supplements can also protect other parts of the body from damage and inflammation. In other words, taking supplements can benefit your body in more ways than one. 

- Vitamin A is very important for eye health, as it helps the eyes see in darkness and also supports the cornea. In fact, being deficient in vitamin A can lead to night blindness, as well as dry eye disease.

- Vitamin C is also a strong antioxidant which can work wonders to prevent oxidative damage from impacting the eyes. Oxidative damage contributes to age-related cataracts, and studies have shown that those with sufficient levels of vitamin C are considerably less likely to experience quick-progressing cataracts

- Vitamin E is great for fighting free radicals, which can impact proteins in the eye and potentially result in cataracts. A study found that lens clarity was superior in participants who took vitamin E supplements, versus those who did not. 

- B Vitamins—specifically vitamins B6, B9 and B12—may reduce the risk of AMD, according to a 2009 study. Taking B vitamins may lower levels of homocysteine, a protein that causes inflammation in the body, which can lead to AMD. 

- Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids which naturally exist in the lens and retina of the eye. Studies show that supplementing with 6 milligrams (mg) of lutein and zeaxanthin daily could reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD, by blocking harmful high-energy light waves from entering the eye. Generally, high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin are associated with stronger vision.

- Omega-3 fatty acids help shield the retina from damage and degradation over time, as the retina itself contains a concentrated amount of omega-3s, and some research has shown that taking omega-3s could lessen the risk of developing dry eye syndrome. Studies have also revealed that ingesting omega-3s can help clear buildup of fatty deposits found in blood vessels, which have the essential duty of transporting blood to the retina. Blocked blood vessels could be a contributing factor to the development of AMD.  

It’s worth noting that some multivitamins contain many of the aforementioned ingredients, so you can address your eye health with a single pill. Many multivitamins combine Vitamin D, Zinc, and B vitamins, all of which are important for optimal vision. That said, make sure to research the ingredients of any supplement before taking it, and always chat with your optometrist about the right treatment protocol for you.

Food versus supplements 

It’s unquestionable that maintaining a healthy diet should be a person’s primary source of consuming vitamins and minerals, however, food alone isn’t always enough to prevent certain eye diseases from developing or worsening. 

Depending on your age and the status of your eye health, it could be worthwhile to incorporate some supplements into your daily healthcare routine. As always, it is best to consult with your doctor before starting any new treatments, as even vitamins can have serious side effects. Book a comprehensive eye exam today at an FYidoctors clinic near you, and begin your journey toward optimal ocular health.