Eye Health (Ocular Health)
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. We don’t know if that’s all true, but what we do know that having perfectly healthy eyes are crucial to our health and well-being. The term “ocular” refers to the eye and its organ system. Having good ocular health means that vision is at least 20/20 or better with or without correction, and the eyes are disease-free.

In this digital era, we are relying more on our digital devices and screens, be it on a smartphone, computer, tablet, or the television. Free radicals are likely to be induced due to prolonged exposure to harmful blue lights, in turn, causing damage to our eyes which may lead to eye strain, blurred vision, headache and even difficulty in focusing. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 285 million people are worldwide visually impaired, 246 million have low vision and the majority are over 50 years old. However, 80% of these visual impairments are preventable or curable. Fret not, there are simple corrective and preventive measures to maintain good vision and enjoy lifelong ocular health.

Keeping the Eyes Healthy
Studies have shown that there are many vitamins that do promote healthy eyes, and some may even help to decrease age-related eye conditions. Some vitamins and supplements can help to keep not only our body but our eyes in optimal shape too. Nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamins C, and vitamin E might help ward off age-related vision problems like macular degeneration and cataracts.

1. Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are carotenoids. Carotenoids are pigments found in plants and in your retina. Supplementing these pigments helps increase their density in your retina. They also absorb high-energy the blue and ultraviolet light that can damage your eyes.

2. Omega-3 fatty acids
The main source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish and most of us don’t consume enough of it. Photoreceptors cells in retina contain a large quantity of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s believed that
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, helps in the development of retinal cells. It’s also thought to have a role in reducing inflammation and helping cells of the retina and the cornea heal and regenerate after damage due to light exposure and aging. A number of studies indicated that people who consume more DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), were less likely to have age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

3. Zinc
Zinc is found naturally in the eyes and it is a powerful antioxidant that protects against cell damage. When taking zinc, copper absorption is lessened. It’s recommended that zinc be combined with copper supplements.

4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C can support the health of blood vessels and helps to absorb iron better. It can lower the risk for developing cataracts by as much as 64 percent when taken as a regular supplement. Several large studies show that vitamin C reduces the risk of getting some types of cataracts, other studies also found that a combination of vitamins C and E supplements reduced risk for cataracts and slowed the progression of cataracts.

5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is believed to protect eye cells from unstable molecules called free radicals, which break down healthy eye tissue. This is what may lead to the formation of cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Natural forms of vitamin E are more beneficial in supplement form than synthetic ones. With all being said, dietary supplements and eye vitamins are designed to enhance and nourish instead of replacing a healthy diet or lifestyle.

 

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References:
1. Antioxidants and age-related eye disease. (n.d.)
2. aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/nutrition/antioxidants?sso=y
3. Lawrenson, J., & Downie, L. (2019). Nutrition and Eye Health. Nutrients, 11(9), 2123. doi: 10.3390/nu11092123
4. Liu, R., Wang, T., Zhang, B., Qin, L., Wu, C., Li, Q., & Ma, L. (2015, January). Lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation and association with visual function in age-related macular degeneration. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 56(1), 252-258.
5. National Institute of Health, National Eye Institute. Facts about age-related macular degeneration. https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts.
6. Papanikolaou, Y., Brooks, J., Reider, C., & Fulgoni, III, V. L. (2014, April 2). U.S. adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: results of an analysis
using observational data from NHANES 2003-2008. Nutrition Journal, 13, 31.