Antioxidants & Eye Health
Unlike other applications, antioxidants have shown real promise for the prevention of age related eye disease. (AMD) Not all antioxidants are created equal however. One study showed that Zinc may have a particularly strong protective effect.
Professionally Reviewed by Charles Li, MD

TL;DRAntioxidants & Eye Health

1. Antioxidants May Help

Unlike other applications, antioxidants have shown real promise for the prevention of age related eye disease. (AMD)

2. Type Matters

Not all antioxidants are created equal however. One study showed that Zinc may have a particularly strong protective effect.

3. Eat your vegetables

When it comes to nutrition, another study suggests that vegetables may be better than carrots when it comes to antioxidants. Patients given lutein had better outcomes than those given beta-carotene, which comes from carrots.

Antioxidants: 3 Potential Benefits
Brain Power
Long term use may benefit cognition
Brain Power
Some studies have shown that taking antioxidants over many years can potentially lead to improvements in memory and verbal intelligence. However, this effect takes many years to manifest. More research is needed before we know for sure.
Cancer
Potential risk reduction.
Cancer
Some studies have shown that giving antioxidants to people who are deficient in certain antioxidant nutrients may help prevent cancer. But, the effect is not large and the research is mixed.
Vision
May protect against aging.
Vision
Certain antioxidants, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, and lutein, have been shown to potentially protect the eye from age-related vision deterioration (macular degeneration).

Study 1Antioxidants & Eye Health

When it comes to eye health and antioxidants, Zinc is a champion. As shown by the data below, much of the benefit from antioxidants comes from zinc, in the context of eye health.

Antioxidants & Macular Degeneration

This study found that zinc and other antioxidants could potentially reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration. Those who were assigned to take zinc and antioxidants showed the highest reduction in their risk of age-related macular degeneration (OR 0.72; 99% confidence interval [CI], 0.52–0.98)).

Our Take

This study shows that the type of antioxidant you take matters. In this case, zinc showed the greatest benefit. All other antioxidants may have helped, but not nearly as much as Zinc.

Data Source

"Persons older than 55 years should have dilated eye examinations to determine their risk of developing advanced AMD. Those with extensive intermediate size drusen, at least 1 large druse, noncentral geographic atrophy in 1 or both eyes, or advanced AMD or vision loss due to AMD in 1 eye, and without contraindications such as smoking, should consider taking a supplement of antioxidants plus zinc such as that used in this study."

Source: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Trial of High-Dose Supplementation With Vitamins C and E, Beta Carotene, and Zinc for Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Vision Loss

Study 2: Carrots vs Leafy Green Vegetables

One study suggests that antioxidants from vegetables may be more effective than antioxidants from carrots when it comes to protecting your eyes from age-related disease.

Lutein vs. Beta-carotene

Researchers found that lutein showed significantly more protection against age-related macular degeneration than beta-carotene. (HR 0.76, 95% CI, 0.61-0.96; P = .02) This suggests that leafy green veggies may in fact be the way to go for eye and vision health.

Our Take

Generally, secondary analyses such as this study are not as reliable as primary analysis. However, these data suggest an interesting connection between the type of antioxidant you take in and eye health.

Data Source

"The pure “head-to-head” exploratory analyses of lutein/zeaxanthin alone vs. beta-carotene alone showed beneficial effects of lutein/zeaxanthin for reducing progression to late AMD, in particular neovascular AMD. These data were further strengthened by the additional analyses of comparison of those assigned to lutein/zeaxanthin plus beta-carotene vs. beta-carotene alone as lutein/zeaxanthin was again beneficial in reducing the risk of late AMD and neovascular AMD."

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4636082/

BackgroundAntioxidants

Key Facts
Examples
Antioxidants
Key Facts
How they work

Antioxidants prevent cell damage by counteracting free radicals.

Effect on Disease

Research on Antioxidants and disease prevention has shown mixed results.

Common Sources

Chocolate

Berries & Fruit

Coffee

Antioxidants
Examples
beta-carotene

Your body makes vitamin A with beta-carotene, commonly found in carrots.

Vitamin C

Found in all sorts of fruits, Vitamin C is a very commonly consumed antioxidant.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E can be found in nuts and seeds.

More Information

What are Antioxidants?

"The human body has several mechanisms to counteract oxidative stress by producing antioxidants, which are either naturally produced in situ, or externally supplied through foods and/or supplements. "

What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?

"Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a problem with your retina. It happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. With AMD you lose your central vision. You cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far. But your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal. For instance, imagine you are looking at a clock with hands. With AMD, you might see the clock’s numbers but not the hands."

Questions on #antioxidants
Can taking antioxidants protect you against cancer?Can antioxidants supercharge your brain power?Can antioxidants protect your vision?