Vitamins & Nutrition
The vitamins, minerals, and supplements used by the eye include vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, D, E, K, zinc, copper, selenuim, lutein/zeaxanthin, bilberry, grape seed, magnesium, ginkgo biloba, lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, quercitin, biotin, taurine, iron, folic acid, boron, calcium, chromium, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, choline, hesperidin, and omega-3 fatty acids http://ods.od.nih.gov/. A well balanced diet will usually provide the necessary vitamins and minerals required by the eye. The exception is with older people who may not be able to adequately absorb vitamin B12 or strict vegetarians who are not getting vitamin B12 because it is found only in animal-based foods. Additional supplementation with fortified grain products or synthetic B12 is necessary with these individuals. A diet high in fat and carbohtdrates has shown an increased risk for mild macular degeneration. Certain eye conditions can however benefit from additional supplementation. Some of these supplements are more important than others depending upon the particular disease. For example, lutein + zeaxanthin decreases the risk of progression of macular degeneration by 10% to 26% depending upon dietary intake (www.areds-2.com) and a daily supplement of 15,000 IU oral vitamin A, palmitate (not other forms of vitamin A) combined with an omega-3 rich fatty acid and 12 mg/day of lutein can slow vision loss in adults with the common forms of retinitis pigmentosa (Archives of Ophthalmologypublished online 13 Feb. 2012). Omega-3 fatty acids are of benifit in dry eye conditions and vitamin C may help modulate the eyes intraocular pressure and decrease the risk of cataracts.
Caveat emptor - buyer beware. Be informed as you research what vitamins you choose to take. Vitamin supplements can be the Wild West of American health for the uninformed. There is debate between various vitamin studies and reports regarding whether supplementing with vitamins is important or necessary, there proper dosage, and what vitamins you should or should not take. Be mindful of the risks associated with nutritional supplement ingredients. Vitamins that may be beneficial for one condition may be contraindicated for another. For example, hepatotoxicity has been observed in patients taking high levels of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, particularly in those who abuse alcohol. Forthermore, individuals with renal insufficiency must be cautious when taking high levels of water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C. Zinc may be associated with Alzheimer disease, prostate cancer, copper deficiency anemia, genitourinary hospitalizations, and can inhibit the absorption of certain medications such as tetracycline. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should not take high doses of vitamin A. Vitamin E has been associated with increased heart failure risk.
The National Institutes of Health conducted a robust 4,203-patient clinical trial from 2006 to 2012 to evaluate the effects of various nutrients on eye health. The study, called the Second Age-Related Disease Study (AREDS2) www.areds-2.com, was developed after an earlier study (AREDS) found age-related macular degeneration to be a nutrition responsive disorder reducing the risk of progression by 25%. The AREDS/AREDS2 formulation was not found to be a cure for macular degeneration, nor was it found to be associated with vision restoration. Long term use of AREDS supplements appears however to be safe and protective against advancement of macular degeneration. A study published in the April 2013 issue ofOphthalmology by the AREDS Research Group showed that the benificial effects of taking the AREDS vitamins are long-lasting. Vitamin A (beta carotene) was not included in the AREDS2 recommendations as it was in the original AREDS recommendations because more recent data has suggested that it may be associated with an increase risk of age-related maculopathy by suppressing the action of lutein and zeaxanthin and may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers and prostate cancer.
The AREDS2 formulation and recommendations for macular degeneration include:
First and foremost, important nutrients are best obtained through proper nutrition. A healthy balanced diet, which includes fiber, fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts, can be helpful in preventing the development or progression of macular degeneration.
I-caps (AREDS formula lutein & zeaxanthin), Ocuvite Extra, Ocuvite PreserVision, Ocuvite Lutine, MaxiVision, Eye-Vite Plus (with lutein), and others.