What is good for Eye Health?

Today’s health and nutritional topic strikes close to home for me.  About the same time as being diagnosed a type 2 diabetic, I also discovered that I had early cataracts in my eyes, especially in the left one.  Since that diagnosis, my left eye has worsened noticeably to the point of considering surgery.

Becoming interested in nutritional health, I have discovered the good news that good eye health can be maintained through specific nutritional supplementation.   As is true for other nutritional issues, establishing a good diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits is the first step in addressing eye care.  There are particular nutrients that have a notable impact on your eyes: vitamin E, astaxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and anthocyanosides.

Let’s look at four of these.


From what I can tell, Astaxanthin may be a miracle antioxidant.  It is more powerful than beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene and may actually be up to 100 times stronger than vitamin E!  Astaxanthin studies have shown that it can help prevent or treat: various cancers, diabetes, obesity, chronic inflammatory diseases, gastrointestinal conditions, male infertility, and diseases of the liver, skin, nervous system, eyes and heart.  For our discussion today, I am concentrating on the aide to your eyes.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun produces cumulative oxidative damage to our eyes that can result in cataracts, inflammation, vision problems, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Astaxanthin has been shown to help improve visual acuity, perhaps by strengthening the intraocular muscles. Additionally, since the macula of the eyes have high concentrations of carotenoids, and since evidence links oxidative damage to AMD, researchers have conducted studies that confirmed that persons taking astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, and lutein have improved acuity, sensitivity, and visual function.

Many sea foods such as salmon are rich with astaxanthin.  Supplements are also available in 4-12 mg daily doses.  You can find them at any health food store or vitamin retailers.  I have just recently taking a 5mg tablet each day.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

We all remember our mother’s admonition that we should eat carrots to have good eyesight.  That was because many vegetables (mostly yellow, orange, and red) have high amounts of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that keep your eyes healthy.   Studies indicate that together they may fight off age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — an eye condition where the light sensing cells in the central portion of the retina, known as macula, start to malfunction and over time cease to work. It is the main cause of blindness in the United States for people over 50 years of age.

Lutein and zeaxanthin may help by rebuilding macular pigment receptors and providing high antioxidant protection.  Researchers believe that there is a biological process in the eye that converts lutein into the high quality antioxidant mesozeanthin.

Load up on lutein and zeaxanthin by eating foods that are high in carotenoids and other antioxidants and take a multivitamin that contains clinical doses of lutein and zeaxanthin.  Look for labeling in milligram (mg) dosages. I already have been taking a quality multivitamin and now eat more carrots than ever before.


Studies have shown that foods containing anthocyanosides help protect the retina of the eye by strengthening the bloods vessels and reducing inflammation within the eye. Many problems in the retina start with inflamed, leaky capillaries. Fluid seeps out of capillaries and damages cells in the retina. In fact, retinal damage, including macular degeneration, is the most common causes of blindness in older people.

There are several fruits that contain lots of anthocyanosides.  The best known fruit in America is the common blueberry.  But its British cousin, the Bilberry may be a stronger alternative.  Bilberry extract has been shown to help stop retinal damage caused by diabetes or high blood pressure, improve night vision and may inhibit or reverse cataracts and glaucoma.

While I am eating more blueberries these days, a 1000mg Bilberry extract tablet each day is now part of my routine.