-The EYE Digest-
Vitamin C and the Eye
We have all heard of the positive effects of Vitamin C. From its antioxidant properties, to its so-called ability to strengthen the immune system, Vitamin C is a nearly ubiquitous micro-nutrient.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, can be found in a variety of sources. It naturally occurs in many fruit, such as oranges, cantaloupe, kiwis, and watermelons; as well as subsequent fruit juices made from these fruit. Other surprisingly abundant sources of vitamin C include chili peppers, bell peppers, broccoli, and potatoes. If you do not feel like eating a fruit or vegetable, Vitamin C can also be found in a myriad of supplementation forms such vitamin tablets or drink powders.
Now we know that Vitamin C provides benefits to the immune system, cartilage, gums, and teeth; but what about the eyes? Well the good news is that Vitamin C holds eye benefits as well! The antioxidant properties of ascorbic acid can help the eyes in multiple ways.
Cataracts and Vitamin C
Many ophthalmology studies have found a link between consistent Vitamin C consumption and decrease of developing cataracts. In theory this makes sense. Cataracts are caused by long-term oxidative damage to the natural lens of the eye. Vitamin C being a natural anti-oxidant enables a defense against oxidative changes on the lens.
The conclusion made by many of the studies involving Vitamin C and cataracts suggest a daily supplementation level of 500 mg.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Vitamin C
The benefits of Vitamin C in relation to Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) were uncovered with the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). Researchers found that a combination of Vitamin C, Vitamin-E, beta carotene and zinc was instrumental in slowing the early progression of AMD. Additionally, adopting lifestyle factors such as smoking cessation, wearing sunglasses outdoors, and eating leafy green vegetables were found to be effective in slow progression of AMD.
Bioflavenoids – Vitamin C’s helpful sibling
Bioflavenoids are compounds that are found in many of the same fruits and vegetables that Vitamin C is found in. These compounds are pigment that give fruit and vegetables their color. They are numerous and come in a wide variety.
Anthocyanin – The Bioflavenoid for the Eye
Recent research has pointed to bioflavenoids and Vitamin C working in tandem to provide health benefits to the body. Specifically for the eyes, a bioflavenoid called anthocyanin, which is prominently found in the fruit bilberry, may deliver great benefits to the eyes. Anthocyanin has been linked to better vascular (blood vessel) health in the eye as well as possessing preventative properties against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
In conclusion, Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for both eye health and overall health. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can be a helpful step towards positive eye health and longevity. If you have any other questions on nutrition and the eye, do not hesitate to contact us!
-Dr. Aaron Neufeld
Dr. Aaron Neufeld is the Chief Optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and primary author and editor of The EYE Digest.
Contact him with questions or ideas for future articles at (650) 948-3700 or email@example.com