Natural vitamins for eye disorders can reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to the American Optometric Association, 10 million Americans suffer from AMD in some form, and 2 million cataract surgeries are performed annually in the United States. Based on several research studies, the association recommends antioxidants for eye disorders and vision health.
Natural Vitamins for Eye Disorders: The Research
The most effective natural vitamins for eye disorders appear to be antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are thought to cause damage to cells, resulting in many problems that can lead to tumors, abnormal cell development and even cancer. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and render them harmless before they can damage cells.
Common antioxidants include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Beta Carotene
The pigments found in fruits and vegetables that give them their rainbow hues are actually the many antioxidants the body needs to render free radicals harmless. That's why most dieticians recommend eating a "rainbow", or a little yellow, orange, red, green, blue and purple colored foods each week to ensure the body receives an abundant supply of antioxidants.
Antioxidants for Vision Health
Your mother was right; eating carrots is good for your eyesight! Carrots contain beta carotene, one of the antioxidants studied by the American Optometric Association. The actual list of antioxidants studied include:
- 500 mg of vitamin C
- 400 IU of vitamin E
- 15 mg beta-carotene
- 80 mg zinc
- 2 mg copper
It's important to note that copper was included in the group to offset the effects of higher doses of zinc, and not as an antioxidant per se.
Age Related Macular Degeneration
The National Eye Institute (as cited on the American Optometric Association website) studied the effects of this antioxidant cocktail on the progression of age-related macular degeneration. The results were so encouraging that the National Eye Institute and the American Optometric Association now recommend the vitamins above for anyone in the early stages of macular degeneration. The NEI speculates that if those affected by macular degeneration experience the same results from these vitamins as the people during the test did, over 300,000 people may actually be able to slow the progression of the disease and delay treatment naturally.
Cataracts can impair vision or cause blindness. While they can now be surgically treated, it makes sense to prevent them and avoid surgery. The same vitamins studied for macular degeneration also proved effective time and time again to prevent cataracts. The AOA reports that the famous Nurses' Health Study demonstrated that nurses who used vitamin C supplements were diagnosed with cataracts 10 years later than their counterparts who did not use vitamin C supplements. In other studies, vitamin E supplements appeared to halt the progression of existing cataracts.
Given the many studies and relatively low supplement levels required to achieve results, the AOA provides the following guidelines for vitamins for vision health. Just 250 milligrams or more of vitamin C per day and 100 IU of vitamin E appear to help both macular degeneration and cataracts. You can purchase supplements over the counter or simply increase your intake of vitamin C and vitamin E-rich foods.
In addition to supplements, eating fresh fruits and vegetables offers even more health benefits. A bevy of antioxidants plus additional vitamins and minerals for good health are served up in every dish of carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, chard, spinach, eggs and other foods packed with vitamins C, E and the various antioxidants associated with vision health. These foods make the best natural vitamins of all for various eye disorders.