Vision-Saving Supplements Cut Down on Glare


Dear Pharmacist,
My eyes are so sensitive to light that I have to reach for my sunglasses as soon as I step out the door. Can you offer any help with this problem? –E.R. Silver Springs, Florida

Answer: If sunglasses are desired for normal outdoor light, your eyes are overly sensitive to glare. Another symptom would be excessive sensitivity to light from computer screens, which I can vouch for personally since my job requires lengthy stays in front of a computer! If you have this problem, you likely squint against the glare of oncoming traffic at night. You know who you are.

I can recommend a couple of nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin. They’re so powerful at improving the eyes’ sensitivity to glare that they’ve actually been dubbed “natural sunglasses.” These nutrients should be perfectly safe to take if you also use any type of prescribed eye drops such as timolol, Xalatan, Restasis, Zaditor, Acular, etc.  Eye-nourishing nutrients are also beneficial for people who take over-the-counter allergy eye drops or “artificial tears.” See, the dietary supplement nourish the retina and optic nerve inside your body, while the drops address outward symptoms.  

When an eye doctor shines that light into your eyes, he sees your retina, which appears bright yellow. It’s yellow for a reason. The cells of your retina pick up and incorporate yellow nutrients known as carotenoids into their cell structure. Guess what two nutrients are yellow? Zeaxanthin and lutein! This is why the carotenoids like zeaxanthin, lutein (and natural beta carotene) are so important for vision. In a 2008 study, researchers at the University of Georgia found that these two nutrients significantly increased the carotenoid content in the study participants’ retinas. They also experienced relief from glare sensitivity. Participants took 2 milligrams of zeaxanthin and 10 milligrams of lutein a day. It helps if you consume healthy foods like tomatoes, peppers, spinach, carrots and other leafy greens.

There are many natural nutrients that can prevent or relieve hundreds of diseases and conditions. One of my favorite books and a great resource for natural symptom relief is NutriCures: Foods and Supplements That Work with Your Body to Relieve Symptoms and Speed Healing by Alice Feinstein. The author provides scientific basis for her recommendations and I appreciate knowing that there is science to back up the claims. It’s an easy read.

Speaking of vision, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the king of the carotenoids, “astaxanthin” which has been the buzz word lately. The dietary supplement is sold by several high-quality makers such as NOW foods, Vitamin Shoppe and NSI brands. “BioAstin,” the best-selling dietary supplement in all of Hawaii, just became available to health food stores nationwide on the mainland. Emerging studies for this nutrient are super exciting, because astaxanthin can protect our vision, ease arthritis, fibromyalgia pain, and improve cholesterol and fatigue.

Did You Know?
Estrogen-containing drugs are drug muggers’ of iodine which you need for breast health, proper weight loss and thyroid hormone.