When we were small, our parents would often tell us to eat lots of carrots to have superhuman eyesight. Now that we are adults, we understand that carrots contain many essential vitamins and nutrients that promote eye health.
As one grows old, their eyesight deteriorates because of the accumulation of oxidants and other inflammatory mediators. This leads to Age-Related Eye Diseases (AREDs) like glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Some of the corrective measures taken may include cataract surgery, laser treatment, and in less severe cases, the physician may prescribe some medications.
The likelihood of developing such eye diseases depends on one’s lifestyle and diet. Here are some essential vitamins that should be consumed daily for optimum eye health.
There are three functional forms of vitamin A which are:
- Retinoic acid
Vitamin A has a role in the production of rhodopsin, an essential protein that facilitates night vision. Additionally, vitamin A ensures that the cornea, which is the eye’s outermost layer, remains clear, consequently preventing cataracts.
Foods that are rich in vitamin A are pumpkins, carrots, and leafy vegetables. Lack of vitamin A leads to a disease known as xerophthalmia, an illness that is characterized by night blindness. In severe cases, xerophthalmia progresses to complete blindness.
Most eye diseases are caused by oxidative stress and inflammatory mediators. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. Recent research conducted in over 3,500 individuals diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration had a 25% reduced progression when they were given vitamin E supplements. Vitamin E is found in leafy vegetables, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Vitamin C is popularly known as ascorbic acid. It is a potent antioxidant that is found in citrus fruits like lemon, lime, and oranges. Like vitamin E, vitamin C reduces AMD progression by 25% and reduces the development of eye cataracts by 75%.
Additionally, vitamin C is crucial in the synthesis of collagen, an essential structural element in forming the sclera and the cornea. Other sources of vitamin C include raspberries, pineapple, mango, kiwi fruit, and cantaloupe.
Vitamin B Complex
A recent study has revealed the importance of vitamin B complex, particularly vitamin B6, B12, B2, B3, and B9. The study showed a decline in the development of cataracts in predisposed individuals who took about 2g of riboflavin daily. Additionally, it was discovered that niacin is effective in the prevention of glaucoma. Leafy vegetables, eggs, dairy products, and red meat are excellent sources of vitamin B complex.
Conclusively, vitamins play a role in ensuring optimum eye health. One must ensure that vitamins are included in their diet.