I don’t really know much about eye supplements, but I was recommended by my eye doctor to take one with lutein for macular degeneration. He didn’t recommend a specific one though or a certain strength, so I wanted to see what you’d recommend.
First of all, it’s great that you’re interested in starting a supplement for eye health. Supplements containing lutein and other vision nutrients can make a big difference in slowing the rate of macular degeneration, especially when started early.
There have been a number of studies about the benefits of lutein (a nutrient related to vitamin A) for macular degeneration. Harvard published a study which found that 6mg of lutein per day reduced the risk of macular degeneration by 43 percent. Other studies have found increased benefits for higher amounts of lutein per day (10 mg or more). In the studies it was basically found that any concentration of lutein was helpful for macular degeneration, but the higher the concentration, the better the protective effect. The general recommendation for the best vision protection is 20mg.
Another nutrient, zeaxanthan, has often been paired with lutein in research studies. Zeaxanthan has been further found to enhance lutein’s benefits on eye health. One supplement we especially recommend is Jarrow Formulas Lutein, which has 20 mg of lutein per pill plus an extra milligram of zeaxanthan. Lutein should be taken with food to help with absorption.
There was another large scale study on macular degeneration and vitamin supplements known as the “AREDS Study”. The researchers used 500 milligrams of vitamin C; 400 IU of vitamin E; 15 milligrams of beta-carotene; 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide; and two milligrams of copper. The study found that the participants who consumed those specific amounts of the vitamins and minerals above had had the lowest risk of developing advanced stages of age related macular degeration and its accompanying vision loss compared to the others in the study who took smaller amounts or no supplements at all. Most of the above values would be in a quality multivitamin with the exception of the zinc (80 mg. of zinc is a pretty high dose, which would need to be added seperately).
People who wished to follow the multivitamin and mineral values used in that study should make sure to take 2mg of copper along with the zinc, since high dosages of zinc can deplete copper stores in the body.
Protecting the eyes from sun damage by wearing sunglasses is another easy way to protect the eyes. Make sure the sunglasses you’re using are rated for both UVA and UVB protection. Routine eye exams are also crucial for maintaining eye health, since as they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
To test yourself for macular degeneration in between eye exams, click here. It’s a site with a diagram known as the Amsler Grid which tests defects in the center of vision (the area affected my macular degeneration).