Your eyes are the most important sensory organ of your body. They are also the most vulnerable part of your body. The damaging UV rays from the sun and prolonged use of bright screens (laptops, smartphones, and TV screens) can tire and weaken your eyes. Other factors such as pollution, inflammation, oxidation, and aging can influence the health of your eyes.
Sunglasses and protective eyewear can be helpful, but if you want to protect your eyes from age-related issues you need to include specific nutrients in your diet.
What Nutrients Protect You from Age-related Eye Damage
Research indicates that dietary antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients may provide benefit in decreasing the risk of age-related eye disease1. The critical nutrients of interest are vitamins C and E, β-carotene, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fats.
Vitamin C: This water-soluble vitamin is vital for making collagen, the structural component of tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. It is also a potent antioxidant that protects the protein, lipid molecules, and the genetic material in your body. It combats the damaging free radicals generated during the normal metabolism as well as through toxins/pollution. because your eyes have a high metabolic rate, they need antioxidant protection. Studies show that improved vitamin C levels help offer this protection, as well as help, regenerate other antioxidants, such as vitamin E2.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. α-Tocopherol is the form of vitamin E that is actively maintained in the human body (blood and tissues). The primary role of Vitamin E is to protect the fats in the cell membranes via its antioxidant activity. The α-Tocopherol form attacks free radicals and breaks the chain reaction that damages the fats in the retina of the eye3.
Beta carotene: Beta carotene is an orange pigment that gives the bright yellow-orange hue to vegetables like carrots and bell peppers, as well as fruits like mangos and tomatoes. It belongs to a class of fat-soluble compounds called carotenoids, which are potent antioxidants. Among them, Beta carotene is the most efficient scavenger of singlet oxygen4. Singlet oxygen is a free radical that rapidly reacts with protein, fats, and DNA material in our body resulting in oxidative damage. The AREDS trial showed that Beta carotene supplementation along with other nutrients like Vitamin C, E, zinc, and copper reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD (macular degeneration)5 in patients.
Zinc: Although a micronutrient, zinc is crucial to maintain the health of the retina as it is needed in the optimal metabolism of the eye. Zinc is part of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) that is a powerful free radical scavenger. Low levels of zinc in biological membranes such as eye tissue and retina increases their vulnerability to oxidative damage and impairs eye function6.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Lutein and zeaxanthin belong to the carotenoid family. These two carotenoids are present in high concentration in the macula or central region of the retina and are often referred to as macula pigment7. These two carotenoids are known for their antioxidant action. Research suggests that they also help absorb the damaging blue light and limit retinal damage8.
Omega-3 Fats: Omega-3 fats have a neuroprotective effect in the retina. They help limit oxidative stress and lower inflammation in the eyes. Because of this, DHA (the critical omega-3 fat) is present in large amounts in the retinal tissue9. DHA also affects the photo-receptor membrane function of your eye. Photoreceptor help convert light (visible electromagnetic radiation) into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. This allows us to see an enormous range of light: from bright sun to scanty lighting to darkness.
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), sponsored by the federal government’s National Eye Institute, found that supplementation with vitamins C and E, β-carotene, and zinc, at levels well above the recommended daily allowances reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD by about 25%10.
NATURELO’s Eye Health Formula includes the recommended ingredients used in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS 2).
1. Nutrients for the aging eye, 2013 Jun 19
2. Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on antioxidant and health effects in humans, 1999 Jun;69(6):1086-107
3. Nutrients for the aging eye, 2013 Jun 19.
4. Rate constants for quenching singlet oxygen and activities for inhibiting lipid peroxidation of carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol in liposomes, 1998 Aug;33(8):751-6
5. A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8, 2001 Oct;119(10):1417-36.
6. Role of zinc in plasma membrane function, 2000 May;130(5S Suppl):1432S-6S. doi: 10.1093/jn/130.5.1432S
7. Fat-soluble nutrient concentrations in different layers of human cataractous lens, 1999 Dec;19(6):502-5
8. Possible biologic mechanisms for a protective role of xanthophylls, 2002 Mar;132(3):540S-542S.
9. Chemistry and metabolism of lipids in the vertebrate retina, 1983;22(2):79-131
10. A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8, 2001 Oct;119(10):1417-36.