PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — From daily multivitamins to those specifically for heart health, bone health, skin health, and now eye health — vitamins have quickly become a multi-billion dollar business.
But do eye vitamins or supplements actually work?
“At the moment, we don’t have the evidence that everybody should take them,” Dr. Penny Asbell of Mount Sinai Hospital said.
“They don’t make your eyes more blue or more green,” Dr. Mark Dunbar of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute said. “It’s really all in the back of the eye.”
“If it’s a younger person, I’ll tell them there’s no study that’s done that shows that its value,” said Dr. John Guehl, an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) at West Penn Hospital.
But eye vitamins may actually help in some other ways. If started early, they can slow the progression of macular degeneration, a serious disease that causes eight million Americans each year to go blind. The results of taking these vitamins may be minor, however.
“It would slow down any progression that was going to occur,” Guehl said. “It does not eliminate it, and it does not prevent it.”
If you are considering taking eye vitamins, look for ones that contain vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and beta carotene. Vitamins with lutein or zeaxanthin will protect the pigments within the eye.
The right eye vitamins might also make being in the sun easier for some people.
“They may allow better contrast sensitivity,” Guehl said. “They may improve patients who really are sensitive to glare and sunlight. Doesn’t hurt, other than maybe your pocketbook.”
As for other popular supplements like turmeric and selenium, there’s really no long term research to support they can improve overall eye health. Of course, eating healthy and exercise can improve your health in general, and your eyes can certainly benefit from that, too.