July is UV safety awareness month and while you probably already know the importance of protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays, you may not have considered the effect of the sun’s harmful rays on your eyes. Research shows that UV-A and UV-B rays can result in long-term vision problems and damage to your eyes. Luckily, keeping your eyes safe is fairly simple. In addition to wearing a hat and protective sunglasses with 100% UV protection, nutrition can also play an important role in keeping your eyes healthy:
The following nutrients can help protect your eyes from damage, as well as protect them from certain eye diseases:
- Lutein & Zeaxanthin: These principal carotenoids in the eye lens and macular region of the retina are powerful antioxidants that studies show may play a protective role in the eye, including reducing the development and progression of age related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in older .
- Zinc: Found in high concentrations in the eye (specifically the retina and choroid), zinc aids in the release of vitamin A from the liver, which in turn supports the production of melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes.
- Vitamin E: Adequate intake of this nutrient helps prevent free radical damage in the body, protecting fragile cells and vital tissues from everyday stress.
- Vitamin C: In addition to its vital roles in supporting the immune system and building connective tissue, according to research vitamin C may also reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.
- Essential fatty acids: The omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found in high concentrations in the retina, are both important for vision development and retinal function.
So, this summer when you head outdoors, in addition to the sunscreen, don’t forget your hat, sunglasses and your vitamins!
(1) Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group. Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Trial of High-Dose Supplementation with Vitamins C and E, Beta Carotene, and Zinc for Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Vision Loss (AREDS). The AREDS investigators have no commercial or proprietary interest in the supplements used in this study.Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119(10):1417-1436
(2) AREDS2 Research Group. “Lutein/Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Age-Related Macular Degeneration. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA, published online May 5, 2013.
(3) How Can UV Rays Damage Your Eyes? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.preventblindness.org/how-can-uv-rays-damage-your-eyes
(4) Protect Your Eyes from the Sun. (2017, January 18). Retrieved from https://www.alive.com/lifestyle/protect-those-peepers/
(5) The Sun, UV Radiation and Your Eyes. (2016, March 30). Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/sun
(6) Skin Cancer Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/for-your-eyes/protect-your-eyes