Nutritional Tips for Your Eyes from Our Durham Eye Doctors


To treat AMD

  • AREDS formula (vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc, plus copper) – The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that a combination of antioxidant vitamins plus zinc helped slow the progression of intermediate macular degeneration to an advanced stage, which is when most vision loss occurs. The National Eye Institute recommends that people with intermediate AMD in one or both eyes or with advanced AMD (wet or dry) in one eye but not the other take this formulation each day. However, this combination of nutrients did not help prevent AMD nor did it slow progression of the disease in those with early AMD. The doses of nutrients are:
    • Vitamin C (500 mg per day)
    • Vitamin E (400 IU per day)
    • Beta-carotene (15 mg per day, or 25,000 IU of vitamin A)
    • Zinc (80 mg per day)
    • Copper (2 mg per day, to prevent copper deficiency that can occur when taking extra zinc)

Ocuvite PreserVision is formulated to contain the proper amounts of these nutrients. People who already take a multivitamin should let their doctor know before taking this formulation. Zinc can be harmful at a dose of 80 mg, so be sure to take this combination only under your doctor’ s supervision.

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin – High levels of these two carotinoids (antioxidants that give plants orange, red, or yellow color) in your blood may help protect against AMD, either by acting as antioxidants or by protecting the macula from damage from light. One study found that people with AMD who took lutein alone or in combination with other antioxidants had less vision loss, while those who took placebo had no change. However, another study failed to find any benefit from lutein. Egg yolks, spinach and corn have high concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin.

To prevent AMD

  • Leafy greens – People who eat dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and watercress tend to have a lower risk of AMD. In one study, researchers found that daily supplementation with folic acid, and B vitamins significantly reduced the risk of AMD among women who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) – In a study of more than 3,000 people over the age of 49, those who ate more fish were less likely to have AMD than those who ate fewer fish. Other studies show that eating oily fish at least once a week cuts the risk of AMD in half. Another larger study found that consuming docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two types of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, 4 or more times per week may reduce the risk of developing AMD. However, this same study suggests that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; another type of omega-3 fatty acid) may actually increase the risk of AMD. Adding more fish to your diet is safe; but talk to your doctor before taking fish oil supplements if you are at risk for AMD.


The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care practitioner.

  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba, 160 mg – 240 mg per day) – Ginkgo contains flavonoids, which researchers think may also help AMD. Two studies showed that people with AMD who took ginkgo were able to slow their vision loss. Ginkgo can increase the risk of bleeding, so people who take anticoagulants (blood-thinners) should not take ginkgo without talking to their doctor. Clinical studies suggest that it may be useful in treating vision problems specifically due to macular degeneration. If you use anticoagulants, do not use ginkgo without close monitoring by your health care provider.
  • Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus, 120 – 240 mg 2 times per day) and grape seed (Vitis vinifera, 50 – 150 mg per day) are also high in flavonoids, so researchers speculate that they may help prevent and treat AMD. However, so far no studies have looked at using bilberry or grape seed to treat AMD.

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