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Do Eye Vitamins Really Work?

There are many companies trying to sell or taut various eye vitamins that claim to help prevent or decrease the progression of various eye conditions such as age related macular degeneration.

Please click here to watch a video on prevention of AMD.

The most important thing to understand in determining if a supplement or eye vitamin is legit is to research it and make sure it’s been backed up by a clinical study to verify and measure results and possible side effects. Otherwise, they will turn into “expensive urine” as your kidneys will discharge unnecessary or toxic substances.Although the eye vitamin labels and advertisements don’t state this fact, studies in their effectiveness only involve retinal and macular health. The retina and macula are very active tissues and for their size, go through more blood supply than most other tissues in the body. Metabolic processes throughout the body produce free radicals as a byproduct which are then found in the bloodstream. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules and cause cell damage and premature aging. The macula which is only about 9 square mm in area (about the size of a capital letter in this text) is exposed to lots of free radicals being that it goes through so much blood supply. The theory behind eye vitamins and the ARED (Age Related Eye Disease) study is that antioxidants reduce the damaging effects of the free radicals and prevent premature aging of the macula and macular degeneration.

Please click here to see the full clinical AREDS and AREDS 2 study.

The AREDS study and eye vitamins are for prevention of AMD only, no study has ever shown that they do anything for other eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, etc. This is only for AMD.90% of patients with AMD stay in the dry type with minimal vision loss (20/40) – leaving only 10% that progress to the wet type of AMD which results in macular hemorrhage and severe vision loss.Patients who took the AREDS formula showed a 25% decrease in incidence of progression of dry type macular degeneration to the wet type of macular degeneration. The study was not done on, nor has ever been proven that taking AREDS vitamins decrease the incidence of dry type AMD.

However, that does not mean that it does not work for preventing dry type AMD, the study has never been done.Hence, whether or not patients take these vitamins at an early age will have benefit, has never been proven or disproven. There is also documented that everyone past the age of 50 has very early signs of dry type macular degeneration so the thinking (not proven) AREDS can decrease the advancement of dry type AMD. This is where the Ocuvite 50+ product could be beneficial. It has the AREDS formula plus 250 MG fish oil(no correlation btw fish oil and AMD prevention has been documented). Fish oil is an anti-inflammatory which has been shown to help with tear production and dry eye. Either way, I always recommend people past the age of 50, take Ocuvite 50+. It won’t hurt to take it and the cost is fairly low ($12/month).

Patients that actually have dry type macular degeneration, need to take the AREDS formula TWICE daily. There are many different brands of eye vitamins and no study has ever been done to prove that one works better than the other. Generally speaking, generic vitamins have been shown to have a lesser absorption rate than brand name but no study has been done to prove that either. All eye vitamins should be taken in addition to your regular multivitamin as formulas are different.

Outside of a multivitamin, a great way to ensure optimal eye health is to consume green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards. Other even more tasty food options are eggs (especially the yolk, cause its filled with lutein and zeaxanthin which help decrease your risk of developing AMD) along with citrus and berries, almonds and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna.As always, please do your research and consult with your eye doctor before consuming any eye vitamin claiming health benefits.