Top 6 Eye Health Supplements to Improve and Protect Eyesight

Though plenty of people manage without vision, sighted people tend to neglect their ocular health and eyes tend to get the short end of the stick. We don’t always put sunglasses on when we should, take our contacts out at the recommended times, or we stare at computer screens (hehem) way too long.

So how do you start giving your precious peepers the TLC they deserve?  Try the top 6 all natural eye health supplements – they’re full of vision-protecting vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that’ll stave off the likes of macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts and keep you clear-sighted for decades to come.

Top 6 Eye Health Supplements to Improve and Protect Your Eyesight

Bilberry

If you saw them, you’d probably think they were blueberries but I assure you they’re not. The bilberry is a potent tool to help your eyesight, despite having adorably funny nicknames like “whortleberry,” “wimberry,” and “windberry.” Native to Europe and the British Isles, the anthocyanosides found in these little indigo fruit have been used for centuries to help treat problems related to vision.

Anthocyanosides control the pigment and are what give many plants their bright indigo or crimson color. They’re also antioxidants, nay, SUPER-antioxidants! Because it’s such a powerful antioxidant, it’s noted as helping restore circulation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as oxygenate areas that have been previously damaged.

Studies are currently inconclusive, but everyone from the ancient Greeks, to fighter pilots during World War II (who said they experienced better night vision after eating bilberry jam for an extended period,) to current nutritional experts claims that bilberries are the real deal. Currently bilberry extract can be used to help protect the eyes and treat against macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.

Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine is a semisynthetic derivative of vinca alkolaid vincamine—partially lab created, partially extracted from the periwinkle plant, which is native to Europe, northern African, and southwest Asia. It was synthesized in 1978 by Richter Gedeon, a Hungarian pharmacist. Vinpocetine is currently sold in Germany as a nootropic under the name Cavinton in Germany and as a dietary supplement in the U.S.

Not only does it help your memory and cognition, it’s an amazingly potent anti-inflammatory that’s good for the eyes. In fact, it shows particular promise as a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration—a particularly pernicious type of vision loss that occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow in the eyes and leak blood or fluid into the macula, blocking your central field of vision. Studies demonstrate that people taking vinpocetine are less likely than those taking a placebo of developing this condition.

Eyebright

Euphrasia, aka Eyebright, is a genus of plant that’s semi-parasitic to other forms of grass but great for human eyes. Named specifically after its use as common treatment for eye infections, eyebright is commonly taken to lessen the severity of cataracts, to ease conjunctivitis (aka pinkeye,) reduce eye inflammation due to seasonal allergies and cure eye infections.

The active constituents of the herb aren’t quite understood, but the assumption is that is has something to do with the tannin acid, Euphrasia-tannin, which is only found in this particular genus. Eyebright can be used in a compress or taken orally in tea or tablet form. The juices of the plants, particularly the root, are extracted for treatment of ailments and can be applied to the eye with a hot or cold compress. It’s important to note that eyebright is no supposed to be taken as eye drops unless you have the specific guidance of a physician.

Goji berries

Wolfberry, fruit of the lyceum barbarum or simply goji berries are berries native only to Asia. They’re apparently in an order of plants and oddly enough belong to the same family as potatoes, eggplants, deadly nightshade, chili peppers and tobacco (and you though your family was a mixed bag.) Goji berries contains high levels of antioxidants like beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, vitamin A, vitamin C, in addition to two important phytonutrients: zeaxanthin, and lutein. They’re also incredibly rich in minerals, giving you a 100% of your daily-recommended iron intake with just three ounces.

What does this all mean? Goji berries are rich with ingredients geared to preventing eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. A large study conducted by the National Eye Institute demonstrated that high levels of antioxidants in combination with vitamin A and C reduced the risk of onset by 25% over a six-year period. Specific studies related to the consumption of goji berries and eye aren’t abundant, but animal and test tube studies have supported the ability of goji berry extracts to protect the eyes and liver from free radicals and even have the power to stop cancer cells from generating.

Camu camu

Camu camu extract is derived from the Myrciaria dubia, a tiny tree native to the Amazon rainforest in Peru and Brazil. It bears pint-sized, dark magenta fruit that resembles a grape, but is closer to guavaberry or rumberry. This berry is dried and ground into a powder, which is what you’ll find at your local health food store in loose powder or capsule form. One teaspoon has over 100 times your daily requirement of vitamin C. On top of that, it’s full of antioxidants, essential amino acids, and tannins. It’s also a great nootropic, fantastic for your mental health, memory, and cognitive abilities.

So how does this work exactly? Well studies have demonstrated that vitamin C supports the nervous system (of which the eyes are a pretty big part) and the essential amino acids like valine and leucine are shown to reduce inflammation and help with muscle and bone recovery. This can help with conditions like uveitis, the inflammation of the middle eye, cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

Fish Oil

Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids contribute to eye health by protecting from age-related macular degeneration and “dry-eye syndrome,” which is when your tear ducts don’t produce enough moisture to keep your eyes lubricated and free from all the detritus of day-to-day life. One of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids is from fish oil, or DHA. Derived from the tissue of oily fish, DHA is rich in omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Even if things haven’t gotten that dire, if you’re like me and you spend a few hours per day in front of a computer, it’s been demonstrated that regularly taking fish oil can help with keeping your eyes moist and comfortable.

Even if you’re eyes aren’t bothering you right now, age-related macular degeneration hits all of us eventually. So how do you keep your baby blues/browns/greens in tip-top shape? In 2008 a large-scale European study demonstrated that participants who consumed fish more than once per week were much less likely to develop wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD.) Wondering if North Americans are any different? Studies from all around the world have demonstrated the important of omega-3 fatty acids in staving off AMD. Not a huge fan of fish? According to the Food and Drug Administration you can safely take up to 3000 mg of omega-3 per day (capsules will actually only have about 300 mg of fish oil per.) If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, fear not! You can get your daily dose from spirulina or chlorella; two different varieties of algae that offer good amounts of DHA to keep your eyes bright for years to come.

About the Author Jessica

After growing up a perpetually pudgy kid, Jessica discovered real food – and her waistline shortly afterward. When she’s not crafting concoctions in the kitchen, she spends her free time writing about food, making her own deodorant, watching sci-fi, doing headstands, and looking for gluten free food that doesn’t suck.

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