Protect Eyesight

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“Dear Pharmacist,

I need more options to protect my vision. I take prescription eye drops, but I’m steadily declining.”
–R.J. Decatur, Illinois

Answer: I’m sorry to hear that. I’m always researching ways to protect eyesight because it is so precious, and often taken for granted. Even if you use prescription drops like Timolol, Xalatan, Restasis, Zaditor, Travatan, Acular, or the ‘eye lash growing’ Latisse, supplements are usually okay.

Numerous multi-tasking formulas are sold at pharmacies, and they contain all the key eye-nourishing ingredients like minerals, omega 3 fatty acids and B vitamins. These lay a good foundation, but may not be enough. So even if you take Ocuvite or I-caps for example, it’s probably alright to take one of the nutrients I list below, or both for that matter. Since we are dealing with your eyes, get your ophthalmologist’s blessings for any new supplements, even if they are sold without prescription.

Astaxanthin- Sold nationwide, it gets my stamp of approval for macular degeneration and glaucoma based upon my research. This is a soft-gel, it is not an eye drop. Astaxanthin can be thought of as a cousin of beta carotene. Because it can reduce Asthenopia or “eye fatigue” by 54 percent, and I work on a computer, I take this. Astaxanthin is a protective antioxidant, it never goes pro-oxidant like other nutrients. Forget your eyes, studies prove it helps joint pain, supports healthy cholesterol levels, eases fine lines and improves endurance. Since I take 12mg BioAstin every day myself, I can vouch for these benefits from my own personal experience. Being both lipophilic and hydrophilic, it slides easily into every single cell, your brain too. Do the studies prove it? Yes. Astaxanthin is helpful for diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, eye strain and seeing things in fine detail. A new study, published in Molecular Vision, July 25, 2013, found that the natural astaxanthin reduced “oxidative stress on retinal pigment epithelial cells” which just so happen to play a crucial role in the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration. That study concurs with dozens of others. Astaxanthin supplements are sold at health food stores nationwide.

Hyaluronic acid- I think this supplement is perfect for dry eye. It’s naturally found in your ‘vitreous humor’ which is the gel-like liquid in your eye. It may help floaters, glaucoma, a detached retina or diabetic retinopathy. Doctors sometimes suggest taking hyaluronic acid supplements to improve recovery and minimize scarring after cataract surgery. It is fabulous for bones (think osteoporosis) and skin. Hyaluronic acid is the star ingredient in skin fillers like Restylane and Juvederm. Supplements are touted to restore hair color (not sure about that one!) and disorders that damage the vocal cords. Since my focus is on eyes, I’ll tell you that hyaluronic acid can be taken as an oral supplement, and it’s sold at health food stores. I haven’t tried any brands myself. I found eye drops with it. One is “AMO Blink Contacts Lubricating Drops”  and the other is Oxyal.