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Looking Out for Your Eye Health with These 3 Supplements

Our eyes are perhaps our most important sensory organ in our body but we may not be taking care of them with as we should. Poor diet, smoking and alcohol consumption are all lifestyle choices that can negatively affect eye health. Conditions such as diabe

2021-02-19 21:07:20

zeaxanthinginkgocataractsglaucomamacular degenerationvitamin ceye healthlutein

Our eyes are perhaps our most important sensory organ in our body but we may not be taking care of them with as we should. Poor diet, smoking and alcohol consumption are all lifestyle choices that can negatively affect eye health. Conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease can also have significant impacts on the blood vessels in the eye. UV light from the sun and lights from screens can also cause damage to the eye, especially the cornea. Recently many of us are spending longer hours in front of screens due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is putting our eyes under even more stress. 

Myopia or near-sightedness, dry eyes, or computer vision syndrome may be an annoyances but things like glaucoma and macular degeneration can lead to diminished vision and even blindness. 

So what can we do to protect our eyes?



Oxidative stress has been shown to be a key mechanism in the initiation and progression in several age-related eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. People who eat limited antioxidant rich foods and those known to have low antioxidant levels in their blood have been shown to be at higher risk for cataracts and other eye conditions(1). Several antioxidants have been found to have specific benefits to eye health, especially Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Vitamin C.


Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Carotenoids are plant pigments that are responsible for the bright red, orange and yellow colour seen in plants, fruits and vegetables and act as antioxidants in the human body. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are just two types of the over 600 carotenoids that exist in nature. People who eat foods that are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, have been reported to be at low risk for both cataracts and macular degeneration(2)(3). Lutein and zeaxanthin are actually found within the lens of the eye which is why these are specific antioxidants for eye health(4). The foods that are highest in lutein and zeaxanthin include, leafy greens, pumpkins, squash, carrots, and peas. Try and consume these foods regularly in your diet and consider a supplement with lutein and zeaxanthin if you know you’re at increased risk for developing several different eye conditions. 


Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another antioxidant that has shown specific antioxidant actions in the eye. The amount of vitamin C in the fluid in the eye is 15 times greater than in plasma, which suggests that vitamin C likely plays a protective role in eye health(5). It has also been noted that concentrations of vitamin C in the eye decreases with age and thus may play a role in age related macular degeneration and cataracts (5). Several studies have shown it to be beneficial for reducing intra-ocular pressure in individuals who suffer from glaucoma(6). Supplementing with vitamin C has been shown in studies to increase the concentration in the eye, so if you are worried about your eye health as you age, vitamin C supplementation may be some thing you want to consider.



Gingko is tree that has distinct fan shaped leaves and is often planted in cities like Toronto because of its tolerance to urban pollution. It is thought to be one of the oldest growing trees, dating back more than 200 million years(7). It is a well-known herb that is used for a variety of health conditions and eye health is one where the is some good scientific evidence for its use. A double-blind study using a standardized extract of ginkgo for 4 weeks, demonstrated a partial reversal of visual damage in people with normal tension glaucoma(8). Ginkgo may also help treat early-stage macular degeneration (9).


1.       Jacques PF, Chylack LT Jr. Epidemiologic evidence of a role for the antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids in cataract prevention. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan 1;53(1):352S-355S.

2.       Hankinson SE, Stampfer MJ, Seddon JM, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Speizer FE, et al. Nutrient intake and cataract extraction in women: a prospective study. BMJ. 1992 Aug 8;305(6849):335–9. 

3.       Seddon JM. Dietary Carotenoids, Vitamins A, C, and E, and Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration. JAMA J Am Med Assoc. 1994 Nov 9;272(18):1413. 

4.       Yeum KJ, Taylor A, Tang G, Russell RM. Measurement of carotenoids, retinoids, and tocopherols in human lenses. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1995 Dec 1;36(13):2756–61. 

5.       Hah Y-S, Chung HJ, Sontakke SB, Chung I-Y, Ju S, Seo S-W, et al. Ascorbic acid concentrations in aqueous humor after systemic vitamin C supplementation in patients with cataract: pilot study. BMC Ophthalmol [Internet]. 2017 Jul 11 [cited 2021 Feb 20];17. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504646/

6.       The Effect of Vitamins on Glaucoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis [Internet]. [cited 2021 Feb 20]. Available from: https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/pmc/articles/PMC5872777/

7.       GINKGO: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews [Internet]. [cited 2021 Feb 20]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-333/ginkgo

8.       Quaranta L, Bettelli S, Uva MG, Semeraro F, Turano R, Gandolfo E. Effect of Ginkgo biloba extract on preexisting visual field damage in normal tension glaucoma. Ophthalmology. 2003 Feb 1;110(2):359–62. 

9.       Bungau S, Abdel-Daim MM, Tit DM, Ghanem E, Sato S, Maruyama-Inoue M, et al. Health Benefits of Polyphenols and Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev [Internet]. 2019 Feb 12 [cited 2021 Feb 20];2019. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6390265/

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