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The eyes are something that many people take for granted, until disease or injury start to affect them, at which point your whole life can be seriously affected. Of course, there are some things, such as accidents and injuries, that can impact your eyes and will require specialist treatment. And in some cases there is nothing that can be done about problems that affect the eyes, such as genetic problems. However, we can look after our optical health in a number of other ways, and one important factor that can help to maintain them is nutrition.

There are a number of things that can affect the health of our eyes, some of which are out of our control and others that we can try and avoid. Some things that potentially increase the risk of eye problems include age, obesity, smoking, excessive exposure to sunlight, and even gender.

Whilst some people will be more at risk than others when it comes to poor eye health, it has been proven that nutrition does play an important role in the health of our vision, and this is therefore something that should be taken into account if you’re interested in preventing age related deterioration.

Studies have shown that certain foods contain antioxidants that can are particularly beneficial for our eyes. However, not everyone manages to eat as much fresh produce as they should to get these benefits. Often a busy lifestyle or other factors can affect the ability to eat a balanced diet. However, the wide range of vitamin supplements that are on the market today have made it easier for consumers to get their recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals, although those taking supplements should still try and eat as well as they can in order to maximize the benefits.

Some important supplements that have been identified in relation to eye health are vitamins A, C, and E. These are the antioxidant vitamins.
Vitamin A is well known for its’ role in night vision, but it is also important for preventing night blindness is pregnant women, and the health of our skin, hair and mucous membranes. It is found in animal products like liver, whole eggs, and milk.

Vitamin C helps reduce the risk of developing glaucoma, macular degeneration or cataracts. Bioflavanoids are available in combination with vitamin C in some supplements, and this is because they help the body absorb it. Vitamin E also helps reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Other supplements that contribute to eye health include beta carotene, lutein, zinc oxide, selenium, and cupric oxide. Lutein is not as well known as some other supplements, but it is central to eye health. It is found in the retina, eye lens, and macula. People who smoke should be careful they get enough lutein, as smoking can affect its’ levels.
Smokers should also be aware that some studies have found that some of those participating who took beta carotene supplements and smoked were at risk of several diseases. These were only small studies however, but care should still be taken.

Eye supplements are a convenient way to get these nutrients, and often contain herbal preparations like bilberry. However, you should remember that exceeding the recommended doses can lead to side effects, so be aware of the total amount of each nutrient you are taking from multivitamins and any other supplements. This is of particular importance with fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, though if you are not taking high doses of any vitamins you should be alright.

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