Eye and vision supplements mainly exist to add to (not replace!) the nutrients your body needs to make sure you maintain your 20/20 vision.

Two of the most commonly cited studies on the health benefits of eye supplements are the AREDS and AREDS2 studies by the National Eye Institute. These studies were participated in by thousands of participants, with a follow-up period of a minimum of five years.

The first Age-Related Eye Disease Study had around 3,600 participants aged 55 to 80 who took a multivitamin supplement containing two milligrams (2 mg) of copper, 15 mg of beta-carotene, 80 mg of zinc, 250 mg of vitamin C, and 400 IU of vitamin E.

The results of this first study showed a reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for high risk people by 25 percent in both eyes, and 19 percent for those at risk of AMD in one eye by 19 percent.

The second AREDS study, on the other hand, looked into the effects caused by modifying the formula on the supplement in AMD progression. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin were closely studied.

During this phase, the formula also had to be changed since supplementing beta-carotene was found to increase the risk of getting lung cancer in previous and current smokers. Other side effects also included stomach pains due to high levels of zinc in the body.

The results? Participants who took the supplement containing lutein and zeaxanthin, but no beta-carotene, had their risk of developing advanced AMD by 18 percent compared to those who took the formula with beta-carotene.

Several recommendations have surfaced regarding what to look for in your eye and vision supplements. Dr. Stewart Shofner, for example, advises us to watch out for the following when choosing a bottle of supplement:

  • Freshness: Always check the packaging for the expiration date and ensure that the seal hasn’t been tampered with.
  • Fillers: Some products add fillers such as dairy products or wheat, especially if you’re intolerant to them.
  • Quality: Pick supplements with quality ingredients possessing high bioavailability. This simply means it’s going to be absorbed by your body easily.
  • Capsules vs. tablets: When it comes down to it, go for capsules. Hard tablets may cause a stomach upset.

As for ingredients, pick multivitamin supplements that contain the following: vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamins C, D and E, beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemical antioxidants.

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