Certain vitamins are essential for maintaining good eye health. Many of them are powerful antioxidants that protect the eyes and other parts of the body against oxidative damage and inflammation. Deficiencies in certain vitamins can increase the risk of certain eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Research suggests that certain vitamin and mineral supplements may help protect against these conditions or slow their development. Here are the four essential vitamins for good eye health. We also cover three other nutrients that are good for the eyes.
4 vitamins that contribute to eye health
People who want to protect their eye health should try to include adequate amounts of the following vitamins in their diet.
1. Vitamin A and beta-carotene
Vitamin A can help a person see in low light conditions. Vitamin A is essential for good vision. It is a component of the protein rhodopsin, which allows the eye to see in low light conditions. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness. Vitamin A also helps the functioning of the cornea, which is the protective outer layer of the eye. A person who is deficient in vitamin A may find that their eyes produce too little moisture to stay lubricated. Beta-carotene is the main source of vitamin A in the human diet. Beta-carotene is a type of plant pigment called a carotenoid, found in many colorful fruits and vegetables. When a person consumes carotenoids, their body converts the pigments into vitamin A.
2. Vitamin E
Alpha-tocopherol is a form of vitamin E that has particularly powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which damage body tissues. Sometimes free radicals can damage eye proteins. This damage can lead to the development of cloudy areas called cataracts on the lens of the eye. A 2014 review looked at studies linking vitamin E to cataract prevention. Some of this research found that lens clarity was better in people who took vitamin E supplements. However, the authors note that a separate study showed that vitamin E supplements had no effect on progression. cataracts. They conclude that more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of vitamin E supplements in preventing and slowing the development of cataracts.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that helps protect against oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is a key factor in two of the most common age-related cataracts: cortical and nuclear cataracts. Cortical cataracts develop around the edges of the lens, while nuclear cataracts occur deep in its center or “core”. A 2016 longitudinal study looked at different factors that may prevent the development of cataracts. The study looked at more than 1,000 pairs of binoculars. At the start of the study, the researchers measured the participants’ cataracts. They then tracked each participant’s vitamin C and other nutrient intake for 10 years. At the end of the study period, the researchers remeasured the cataracts of 324 pairs of binoculars. Participants who reported consuming more vitamin C showed a 33% reduction in the risk of cataract progression.
4. B vitamins
A 2009 study suggests that daily supplementation with a combination of vitamins B-6, B-9, and B-12 may reduce the risk of AMD. AMD is a degenerative eye disease that affects vision. However, this particular study only involved women. Further research is therefore needed to support the use of B vitamins in the prevention of AMD in women and men.
An older study looked at nutrient intake and eye health in 2,900 people aged 49 to 97. The results revealed that higher intakes of protein, vitamin A and B vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin and niacin) were associated with a lower rate of cataracts. A 2018 national study in South Korea found a link between a reduced intake of vitamin B-3, or niacin, and glaucoma. In people with glaucoma, a buildup of fluid in the eye puts pressure on the optic nerve. Over time, this pressure can damage the nerve and lead to vision loss.
3 more nutrients for eye health
Research suggests that the following nutrients also benefit the eyes.
1. Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that exist in large amounts in green leafy vegetables. They are also present in the lens and retina of the eye. As antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin can help reduce oxidative damage in the retina. Some research suggests that taking about 6 milligrams (mg) per day of lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of developing AMD.
Zinc is a mineral that helps maintain the health of the retina, cell membranes and protein structure of the eye. Zinc allows vitamin A to pass from the liver to the retina to produce melanin. Melanin is a pigment that protects the eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Zinc supplementation can help people with AMD or at risk of developing the condition. Taking 40 to 80 mg of zinc per day, in addition to certain antioxidants, could slow the progression of advanced AMD by 25%. It may also reduce visual acuity loss by 19%.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids
You can help protect your retina by consuming omega-3s. The retina of the eye contains a particularly high concentration of reliable source of omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3). These fatty acids help protect the retina against damage and degeneration. Specifically, omega-3s reduce the buildup of fatty deposits in blood vessels, including those that supply blood to the retina. Some scientists believe fatty deposits in these blood vessels may contribute to AMD.
Additionally, a small body of research suggests that increasing omega-3 intake may reduce the risk of dry eye syndrome. A person with dry eye syndrome does not produce enough tears to keep the eyes lubricated. However, research in this area is limited and more studies are needed to support this claim.
Specific vitamins and nutrients are essential for maintaining good eye health. Some may even help prevent the onset or progression of certain eye diseases. A balanced and healthy diet provides the range of necessary nutrients. The diet should include whole grains, legumes, and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.
* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice.