Although it may seem unfair, age is the biggest risk factor for many eye diseases. As you age, the changes in your body processes affect your eyes as well. This is why you should start protecting your vision right now. Oxygen — though normally a life-saving element — can produce free radicals in your body. And free radicals can damage your cells and prevent them from regenerating like they used to. Your body does have a natural protection system in place to fight free radicals, but sometimes when you age, this protective system does not work like it should.
Free radicals can damage your retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye. They also affect the lens of your eye. The lens helps to focus light onto your retina, which then sends an image of what you are looking at to your brain. This is literally how you see. Fighting free radicals as you age means you will be protecting these important parts of your eyes. And getting lots of antioxidants in your diet is the best way to do this.
Which antioxidant vitamins are particularly important when it comes to eye health? Well, you probably know that vitamin A deficiencies can cause problems for your eyes — specifically in the form of night blindness. In places of the world where poor diets are consumed, this is a major problem. And, although North Americans have a whole array of fruits and veggies available to them, some people don’t take advantage of this fact. People who neglect their diet can easily become deficient in vitamin A, and those who have certain malabsorption diseases also run a risk of developing this problem. That means vitamin-A deficiencies can happen to almost anyone. Unfortunately, vitamin A supplements aren’t as good for you as food sources rich in vitamin A are.
Now, here’s an important thing to remember: if you want to boost your vitamin-A levels, also take a zinc supplement. Vitamin A won’t do you much good without zinc. Zinc assists vitamin A by increasing the activity of retinol dehydrogenase to make the eye function properly. If a good diet or vitamin A supplements aren’t helping, then you may be lacking zinc.
In a recent U.S. study, zinc supplementation was found to prevent blindness in 25% of elderly individuals with age-related macular degeneration! So zinc is as important as vitamin A when it comes to eye health. Check zinc supplementation levels with your health-care provider, as too much zinc is damaging to the body.