Boosters for Ageing Eyes by R. Ann Parris
Sometimes, society almost presents that eyesight just is, and short of corrective lenses or in some cases surgery, we just deal with it — and the fact that it gets worse as we age.
Psh. There’s plenty we can do. Tools and practices can help reduce the effects and help retain independence and confidence, but we can also address the issue inside our eyes.
*This post focuses on supplements and vitamins. There is always a risk of allergies and contraindication. Just like not all of us react to Benadryl the same way, we react to compounding agents and foods differently, and they can have negative interactions with any other supplement or drug we’re taking. Check for those before adding or removing anything to an existing regimen.
Supplements that contain carotenoids such as lutein can help with eyes damaged by the blue light from all our electronics screens, as well as boost contrast perception, which helps with dawn-dusk and night vision.
Omega-3s are general boosters that can also help maintain eyesight, particularly DHA and EPA. Consider taking them before eyesight problems develop to avoid or lessen the impact of aging and natural problems. Also consider them for kids and pregnant or nursing women. Infants whose formula included DHA develop better eyesight than those whose formula didn’t, with similar results in much smaller and localized (and thus generally less reliable ) studies about breast-fed infants whose mothers’ diets were rich in or lacking in DHA and Omega-3s in general.)
The AREDs-1 and -2 studies specifically looked at long-term eye health, and age-related eyesight issues like AMD and cataracts, and published a suggestion on maintenance and improvement supplements that included lutein and the common companion zeaxanthin, zinc, copper (any time you take zinc, you need to take a copper supplement) and Vitamins B and C. Thing is, if you’re not already low on those vitamins, taking more is unlikely to yield any positive change. It’s also highly unlikely that the levels prescribed by AREDs-1 and -2 (especially AREDs2) can be consumed by diet alone — it almost invariably requires oral supplements.
Vitamin A has also been shown in some studies to reduce the effects of cataracts and AMD, and while rare in most 1st World nations, deficiency in Vitamin A can lead to tear duct issues that lead to cornea softening and failures. If a condition (or some other supplement) reduces the ability to absorb Vitamin A, a supplement might be called for in that case, too. It can usually be consumed in sufficient amounts through dietary choices.
Any of the general digestion, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-system boosting vitamins, herbs, and supplements can also help prevent and slow eyesight degeneration.
Vitamin E is particularly noted as an antioxidant of choice for AMD, although the jury is still out with conflicting studies on its effect on age-related cataracts. B6, B9, and B12 are the go-to anti-inflammatory B Vitamins, with riboflavin (B2) bringing in the lead for antioxidants among the suite, and the B vitamins can assist with those cataracts, too.
B vitamins in the form of B3-niacin are also one of the few that can help prevent and slow the effects of glaucoma — but, be sure you’re actually deficient and not consuming more than 1.5-5g per day; if niacin isn’t the problem, it can become one, with those effects, too, focused around the eyes.
Some folks find saffron and calendula teas and extracts to be beneficial for many age- and stress-related eyesight issues, among some of the other homeopathic options.
Green and black camellia teas are others that are just generally helpful in all sorts of ways and actively enhance our ability to correctly process nutrients, which can then affect the balance of minerals and vitamins available to our eyes and our body’s ability to produce and regulate the enzymes needed for reactive eyesight.
Cranberry and acai are other general cure-all’s that also crop up in the vision and age-related eye condition arena. Like some others, they’re generally just good for you, and eyes aren’t the only things that would benefit from their inclusion on our diets.
There are plenty of others out there, the subjects of studies or just anecdotal pass-down, from improving the quality of tears and timing of our tear ducts, to re-sharpening or maintaining our vision and even for dissolving clouding corneas and scar tissue that might impair us.
Most supplements have to be taken for at least 6-8 weeks to start generating significant effects, and we might not notice them for another 2-8 weeks longer, so if you do decide to give it a try, make sure you give it a fair shot at helping you.
And, again, check with a doctor or pharmacist if you’re already taking other supplements or medications, or if you’re in a high-risk demographic.