Eye Nutrients

How is your vision on the tennis court? Naples friend Bob Mazzola suggested the topic of what you can take to help save yours. My brother, the optometrist, points out that very little will “improve” your vision; but what you eat may “save” your eyes (so you can make that critical line call correctly!).

Here is a piece from the Naples Daily News that covers the subject very well:

Question: My vision is getting blurry and I have to squint to read. My ophthalmologist says it’s part of the aging process. I don’t want to waste my money, but I’m scared to go blind. What vitamins will enhance my eyesight?

A: The best sight-savers are actually pigments, as in ‘dyes’ that impart color to fruits and vegetables. Like bilberry, which is a pigment that makes berries blue. If you eat five or more servings of colorful organic fruits and veggies, your vision should improve after a few months. Adding high-quality supplements will accelerate that outcome and further reduce the risk of cataracts, glaucoma, eye floaters, retinopathy and optic neuritis.

Before you buy any vitamins, peek in your medicine cabinet; some drugs can make your vision fuzzy. Among them, digoxin, HCTZ, Dyazide, Lyrica, cold remedies and allergy pills.

Here are the best eye-loving nutrients:

Bilberry — Protects the retina and improves night vision; reduces cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Bilberry is related to blueberries and it contains “anthocyanosides” which sweep away free radicals. Eat the berries or take bilberry extract, about 80 mg twice daily. If combined with grape seed or lutein, even better!

Zeaxanthin and Lutein — These yellow-orange pigments are called “carotenoids” and they impart color to leafy green vegetables, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, papaya and corn. Carotenoids can quench free radicals and lower your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Good formulas will blend these sister nutrients — about 20 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin.

Beta carotene — Helpful if you see a ‘haze’ or glare in your vision. It makes pumpkins and carrots that familiar orange and protects the human retina. Drug muggers of beta carotene include antacids, reflux medicine, Questran, mineral oil or the diet pill Alli (and Xenical). Definitely supplement if you take those medications. Choose good brands, okay? Synthetic beta carotene is harmful, whereas natural beta carotene “from D. Salina” or “from an algae source” protects vision. Dosage varies from 12-25,000 IU taken once daily.

Hyaluronic acid or HA — This compound makes the jelly-like liquid that fills up most of your eye. HA can help maintain moisture in the skin and eye so it’s great for people who buy a lot of wetting formulas like GenTeal or Refresh. Those are excellent fixes, but their benefit is fleeting. When HA supplements are combined with essential fatty acids (like omega 3 fish oils), you create even more lubrication (and a fantastic defense against Sjogren’s Syndrome). Dosage of HA: 100-200 mg daily and fish oil: 500-1,000 mg once or twice daily.

Ginkgo biloba: Protects the optic nerve and the retina. Particularly helpful for diabetics and people with multiple sclerosis. Dosage: 60 mg once or twice daily. Careful — it enhances the effect of blood-thinners.

3 thoughts on “Eye Nutrients

  1. Good information, George. There are many products on the market like Ocuvite and PreserVision that are specific for eyes. Of course nothing replaces regular checkups with your optometrist. If you live long enough, you’ll get cataracts – this surgery is common nowadays.
    I’ve played tennis with guys who have amazing vision. If my serve is a half inch out they can call it. I’ve also played with people who, when the ball is clearly in, will call it out. Are they going blind, or am I? Or is something else is going on?

    Bill – watch out for that “something else going on”! see you next week. george.

  2. I have heard good things from people about Lutein supplements. There is a blue berry bilberry combo available that also has clinical trial back up studies about it effectiveness to slow macular degeneration. I’m not familiar enough with the other to comment

    Marc – but, you are still too young to worry about it! george

  3. Another key point is that sun glasses protect against cataracts, particularly is you have blue or light colored eyes.

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