Q. Can vitamins help keep eyes healthy?
A. YES. The antioxidant vitamins (A, C, E, and beta carotene) and the B-complex vitamins are particularly important.
Even a slight deficiency of Vitamin A can cause tired eyes, sensitivity to light variations, dry eyelids and increased susceptibility to infection. Chronic severe deficiencies can result in ulceration and distortion of the cornea and even blindness. Vitamin A is also essential for the formation of visual purple necessary for night vision.
B-Complex deficiencies can result in light sensitivity, paralyzed eye muscles, itching, burning, blood shot and watering eyes. Pantothenic acid (B5) is particularly important for eye stress. Thiamin (B1) is important for eye metabolism and Riboflavin (B2) deficiency has been linked to cataracts.
Q. What about minerals?
A. YES. Minerals are important too, particularly zinc and selenium.
Zinc concentration in the human retina is higher than in any other organ. Supplemental zinc has been shown to slow down the progression of macular degeneration and low zinc levels are associated with increased risk of cataracts. Both zinc and vitamin A improve night vision.
Selenium is considered an antioxidant mineral because it is necessary for production of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase that protects cell membranes from free-radical damage.
Q. Do eyes need amino acids too?
A. YES. The amino acids glutathione and taurine are particularly important. Glutathione is found at a very high concentrations in the lens and reduced levels are found in virtually all forms of cataracts. Glutathione functions as an antioxidant, participates in amino acid and mineral transport and protects the lens of the eye from destructive effects of ultraviolet light. Glutathione levels can be increased by providing its amino acid precursors, cysteine, glutamine and glycine. Methionine, and selenium also boost glutathione levels.
Taurine, another important amino acid, is the building block of all other amino acids and is associated with zinc in maintaining eye function. Taurine deficiency is associated with retinal degeneration.
Q. What is lutein and zeaxanthin? How can they improve eye health?
A. Lutein is a carotenoid found in foods such as broccoli, collard greens, kale, mustard greens and spinach.
Lutein and its isomer zeaxanthin are concentrated in the retinal macular pigment and are the only carotenoids presents in the human lens. Several studies have shown that a high intake of these carotenoids have been associated with a reduced risk of both cataracts and macular degeneration.
Q. Are there any herbs that support eye health?
A. Yes. The chemical constituents of several herbs have demonstrated positive effects on eye health.
- Bilberry contains flavonoids known as anthocyanosides, potent antioxidants that improve microcirculation and promote the formation of visual purple. Clinical studies with Bilberry have confirmed positive results in macular degeneration, cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy and night blindness.
- Ginkgo Biloba contains ginkgo heterosides that have demonstrated impressive results in the treatment of macular degeneration. This herb must be used with caution if you are on blood thinners or take daily aspirins.
- Eyebright is used to strengthen eye tissues and provide elasticity to important optic nerves responsible for sight.
Q. Can poor nutrition damage eyes and cause vision problems?
A. Definitely. While a deficiency of even one nutrient can cause vision problems, the risk of cataract, macular degeneration and other vision problems is most significant when several nutrients are low in the diet.
Q. Can vision be improved or even restored with good nutrition?
A. Yes. According to several studies, loss of vision can be improved when optimum nutrient levels are restored.
Over 40% of patients who regularly took supplements containing vitamins such as B2, C, E and beta-carotene combined with copper, manganese and selenium were able to improve their vision.
Cataract regression was seen in patients treated with vitamins E, B2 and B6 and their vision improved.
Eye disease was retarded in 70% of nearly 1,000 patients with age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, who were treated with vitamins A, C, E, and selenium.
Q. What does Dr. Collins recommend?
A. Based on 20 years of research, we have developed our own private label formula for our patients. It is a great multi vitamin and has everything your eyes need for good nutrition and good vision.