There’s a vitamin or supplement for just about everything. What they generally lack is solid evidence to support their claims. However, research shows that some nutrients benefit people with certain eye conditions. Can the right mix of vitamins boost your eye health and prevent potential serious problems?
Special note: Do not start a vitamin or supplement regimen without talking to your doctor. Even though these substances are commonly available without a prescription, they can pose problems (such as interacting with your other medication). Always get your doctor’s approval first.
Vitamins for Preventive Vision Care: Should You Stock Up?
In most cases, your optometrist won’t recommend a supplement regimen if you have healthy eyes. But if you already take a daily multivitamin, you’re likely getting plenty of nutrients for your eyes. The nutrients below are commonly found in multivitamins and may help support your eye health:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A (or beta-carotene)
- Folic acid
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids
Can Vision Supplements Curb Age-Related Macular Degeneration Risk?
One of the most well-known studies that examined the effect of nutrients and eye health is the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, funded by the National Eye Institute. The study found that people who took high doses of nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc had a 25 percent reduced risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss.
If you are at high risk for advanced AMD, talk to your eye doctor about the potential risks and benefits of a supplement regimen to support your eye health.
If you’re unsure whether you have AMD, see your optometrist. He or she can perform tests that will confirm whether you have this condition.
Vitamins for Vision: The Big Takeaway
Remember that supplements are just that—supplements. While they may support your health, they cannot replace a healthy and balanced diet. You could stock up on every vitamin and supplement that might support eye health, but the best thing you can do for your eyes is to see an optometrist every one to two years. A comprehensive exam will show if you are at risk for vision loss or other eye problems. Your eye doctor will work with you to create a customized prevention or treatment plan, which may include vitamins and supplements to support your eye health.