High blood glucose levels and high blood pressure can cause damage to blood vessels in the eyes. Are you taking a proactive approach to protecting your vision from eye conditions such as cataracts or macular degeneration? While a well-balanced diet can help safeguard your eyesight, you may also want to consider medicinal supplements and herbs proven to boost eye health beyond food alone.
Eyebright, contained in teas, tinctures and homeopathic eyedrops, is traced to the 14th century as a cure for widespread eye maladies, reducing inflammation and infection.
Ginkgo (ginko biloba) improves blood flow to the back of the eye; as an antioxidant, it protects nerve cells throughout the eye and body.
Gou qi zi (wolfberries) is one of many traditional Chinese herbs for eye health. The red diamond-shaped berry is known to improve eyesight, moisten dry eyes and prevent macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Green tea is chocked with vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and antioxidants to help guard eye tissues from glaucoma and other diseases.
Ju hua (chrysanthemum flower) is rich in beta-carotene and B vitamins and has proven beneficial for watery eyes, spotty vision and blurred vision.
Mi meng hua (buddleia), and its flower buds in particular, help alleviate light sensitivity, dim eyesight and extra eye secretions. Medical studies note that buddleia helps protect against cloudiness and eye lens damage.
Many of these eye-supportive nutrients are already in multivitamins and natural food sources, including leafy green vegetables, fruits, eggs, meats, fish and nuts.
Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that helps reduce eye cell damage and cataract risk.
Beta-carotene, a pigment in plants, helps with the production of vitamin A and can lower the risk of macular degeneration, stroke and other diseases of older age.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids found in salmon, herring, tuna and a number of cold-water fish are linked to healthy visual development and retinal function. Omega-3s also help regulate intraocular pressure.
Folic acid is a B vitamin that when deficient can lead to deterioration of the optical nerve.
Lutein, derived from eggs and leafy green vegetables, lowers the risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.
Selenium is a mineral with anti-oxidizing properties that shield cells from damage. Walnuts and enriched breads and rice provide dietary selenium.
Vitamin A helps maintain clear, sharp vision and reduces the risk of night blindness.
Vitamin C as an antioxidant helps lower the formation of cataracts and helps reduce the risk for glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.
Vitamin E has proven to slow cataract growth and is naturally found in leafy green vegetables and nuts.
Zeaxanthin appears in high concentration in the macula of the eye and is believed to help block damaging blue light from reaching the inner structures of the retina.
Zinc at appropriate levels strengthens retinal cells and helps prevent blindness from macular degeneration.
Getting too much of certain micronutrients, minerals and herbs can cause health problems. Before taking any dietary supplement or herb, always check with your doctor first.
What supplements and herbs have you found beneficial for eye health?
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporations.