Eye Health


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Eye Health

By Sabeen Faquir

Do you want to know what you can do for the health of your eyes? May be your ophthalmologist is telling you to watch out for macular degeneration or warning you about cataracts or glaucoma. I’m here to tell you there may be some supplements you should to ask your doctor about. Present him/her with some research.

First, eye health is nothing without carotenoids. The –xanthin’s like astaxanthin and zeaxanthin are crucial carotenoids of the eye. Lutein is another antioxidant found in the eye. In fact, taking lutein and zeaxanthin regularly has been found to contribute to eye health (Nwachukwua et al). In a recent randomized, double-blind placebo controlled trial, it was found that taking lutein and or lutein and zeaxanthin, improved macular pigment optical density (Huang et al). The study suggests taking 10-20mg of lutein or 10mg of lutein with 10 mg of zeaxanthin. This result has repercussions for those experiencing macular degeneration, a degradation of the central part of the retina.

Carnosine is a helpful nutrient for those suffering from proteinaceous build up in the lens of the eye, or cataracts. Carnosine acts by inhibiting proteolysis or the breaking down of protein. Crystallins are a type of protein that normally supports the lens’ function. But when damaged, crystallins contribute to the formation of cataracts.  In one study, it was found that with increased concentrations of carnosine, the turbidity (opaqueness) of damaged crystallins was reduced significantly. And despite UV-B and UV-C exposure, carnosine reduced the turbidity of crystallins significantly after 6 and 4 hours, respectively. But, there was less of a loss of crystallins after UV-C exposure, so carnosine is more effective at protecting against the damage of UV-C rather than UV-B irradiation (Liao et al). You can find carnosine as an oral supplement or part of eye drops. In an eye formulation, you will see it as N-acetyl-carnosine. Studies may suggest its lipophilicity (ability to dissolve in fats) is increased in a phospholipid complex. This may make delivery to the lens easier (Abdelkader et al).

French maritime pine bark, also known as the patented Pycnogenol, is shown to improve endothelial function (Jain et al). This means it was shown to improve the ability of blood vessels to dilate or constrict, as needed. This may be important for someone experiencing glaucoma which is associated with increased intraocular pressure (IOP). An ophthalmologist may prescribe something to help prevent the amount of fluid produced by the eye like a beta-blocker or something to drain the fluid out of the eye like a cholinergic. To mitigate the effects of side effects, WebMD suggests using eye drops. And to potentiate the effects of medication, you might want to ask your doctor about taking French maritime pine bark.  Furthermore, a combination of the pine bark and bilberry known as the patented Mirtogenol, is shown to increase the effects of latanoprost eye drops and lower IOP (Steigerwalt et al). A study compared the effects of Mirtogenol, latatoprost, and a combination of the two. The combined effects of both Mirtogenol and latanoprost, was significantly more effective at lowering IOP.

So, if when the next time you get your eyes checked out, your ophthalmologist or optometrist mentions you may be developing macular degeneration, cataracts, or glaucoma, ask them about taking the aforementioned nutrients.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease.


Ifeanyi D. Nwachukwua, Chibuike C. Udenigweb, Rotimi E. Alukoa. Lutein and zeaxanthin: Production technology, bioavailability, mechanisms of action, visual function, and health claim status. Trends in Food Science & Technology. Volume 49, March 2016, Pages 74–84

Yang-Mu Huang, Hong-Liang Dou, Fei-Fei Huang, Xian-Rong Xu, Zhi-Yong Zou, Xin-Rong Lu, Xiao-Ming Lin. Changes following supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin in retinal function in eyes with early age-related macular degeneration: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. British Journal of Ophthalmology. 2015; 99:371-37

Jiahn-Haur Liao, I-Lin Lin, Kai-Fa Huang, Pei-Ting Kuo, Shih-Hsiung Wu, and Tzu-Hua Wu. Carnosine Ameliorates Lens Protein Turbidity Formations by Inhibiting Calpain Proteolysis and Ultraviolet C-Induced Degradation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2014, 62 (25), pp 5932–5938

Hamdy Abdelkader, Julian Swinden, Barbara K. Pierscionek, Raid G Alany. Analytical and physicochemical characterisation of the senile cataract drug dipeptide ?-alanyl-L-histidine (carnosine). Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis. Volume 114, 10 October 2015, Pages 241–246

Sparshi Jain, Savleen Kaur, and Nishant Sachdev. Brief Communication: French Maritime Pine Bark Extract (Pinus Pinaster) and Its Ophthalmic Use. Journal of Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology. 2014, 5:4

Robert D Steigerwalt, Jr, Gianni Belcaro, Paolo Morazzoni, Ezio Bombardelli, Carolina Burki, and Frank Schönlau. Mirtogenol® potentiates latanoprost in lowering intraocular pressure and improves ocular blood flow in asymptomatic subjects. Clinical Ophthalmology. 2010; 4: 471–476.