C for Yourself: The Best Vitamins for Eyes

Vitamins for Eyes - If you are concerned about aging eyes, chances are you're aware of the important roles beta-carotene, lutein, the tongue-twistingly named zeaxanthin, bilberry, ginkgo, selenium, and zinc can play in maintaining good vision.

Even if you buy contact lenses at your local eye doctor, vitamins for you eyes can help keep your eyes healthy. Chances are, however, the nutrient you know the best is the one you need the most, vitamin C.

Every tissue in the human body has to have vitamin C. Different tissues respond to vitamin C deficiencies in different ways. Arteries make plaques out of oxidized cholesterol when vitamin C is deficient, but veins don't. Bone is largely unaffected by vitamin C deficiency but the eyes suffer severe damage.

The eyes deteriorate when diet and supplementation fail to provide enough vitamins for the eyes, especially vitamin C. One indication of just how important this most basic of the vitamins for eyes is the concentration of vitamin C in the vitreous humor, the colorless liquid in the eyeball. Vitamin C is about twenty-five times more abundant in vitreous humor than it is in the bloodstream.

The antioxidant potency of vitamin C, the most frequently overlooked of the vitamins for eyes, prevents crystallization of the lens. It stops the accumulation of materials that cloud the lens and form cataracts. Vitamin C deserves an especially prominent place on any list of vitamins for eyes among people who take blood thinners.

By the time your doctor has put you on Coumadin for heart disease, you've almost certainly suffered considerable damage to your arteries from atherosclerosis. The accumulation of calcified, cholesterol plaques is worse when there is a deficiency of vitamin C.

Weakened blood vessels tend to leak, and thinning the blood makes them leak even more. The effects of vitamin C deficiency are especially severe in the eye, where the combination of insufficient vitamins for eyes and Coumadin can lead to severe problems in circulation, retinopathy, and macular degeneration. Let?s take a closer look at how vitamin C supplementation can help specific eye problems.


Long-term studies suggest that cataract, the clouding of the lens in older eyes, can be greatly decreased or even prevented by long-term supplementation with vitamins for eyes including vitamin C.

Cataracts results when large molecules of protein accumulate to the point they block light and thus hinder vision. As mentioned above, the liquid in the eyeball has an extremely high concentration of vitamin C - except when there is cataract. Studies have show that eyes with cataracts have lower levels of this most essential of the vitamins for eyes. A report dated October 20, 1997 from Tufts Medical School found that the formation of cataracts may be reduced as much as 77% by long-term supplementation with vitamin C.

The Tufts study, "Long-Term Vitamin C Supplement Use and Prevalence of Early Age-Related Lens Opacities," evaluated 247 women, aged 56 to 71. It found that women who had taken Vitamin C for long periods of time showed fewer signs of cataracts.

"Use of (supplemental vitamin C without other vitamins for eyes) for 10 years or more was associated with a 77 percent lower prevalence of early lens opacities at any lens site and an 83 percent lower prevalence of moderate lens opacities at any lens site compared with women who did not use Vitamin C supplements," commented Dr. Paul F. Jacques, epidemiologist and senior scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

The scientists emphasized that Vitamin C reduces the risk of cataracts through its action as one of the antioxidant vitamins for eyes. In the eye, antioxidants stabilize molecules of oxygen that have been struck by ultraviolet (UV) rays. Without sufficient antioxidants, exposing the eye to UV sunlight creates unstable oxygen molecules that can interact with cholesterol in the linings of blood vessels, thus restricting blood flow. Of all the vitamins for eyes, vitamin C in particular may also protect the eye against damage from sunlight.

The Tufts study on Vitamin C showed the best results for women who had taken supplements of 400-800 milligrams daily for at least 10 years


Glaucoma is a condition of high pressure in the clear liquid in the eyeball. Left untreated, it can cause blindness.

Normal pressure in the eyeball is 14 to 22 millimeters of mercury. Mild elevations in eye pressure, to 23 to 30, can produce no symptoms for years. Eventually, however, glaucoma can cause swelling, pain, and loss of vision from the periphery of the field of vision eventually to the center.

Vitamin C lowers eye pressure. Ophthalmologists have known this fact for many years.

In 1972, a Dr. Michele Vireo and associates reported results of an experiment in which they gave glaucoma patients vitamin C. The patients recruited for this study were not responsive to regular medications or surgery.

Dr. Vireo's team found that eye pressure responded well to a relatively high dose of vitamin (in excess of 10,000 milligrams a day). After a period of 7 months, uncontrollable pressures of 30 to 70 fell to much less dangerous readings of 15 to 35. The lowest pressures occurred approximately 4 to 5 hours after taking vitamin C, and pressure rose steadily during the 24 hours until the next dose. Once lower eye pressures were established, however, they could be maintained on about one-quarter the original dose of vitamin C.

There have been at least 79 scientific studies of the role of vitamin C in treating glaucoma since 1972. Many researchers now believe that vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are the best vitamins for eyes, and that all are essential for long-term ocular health. Vitamin C is also used for treating floaters and flashers, and for supporting recovery from surgery for detached retina.

How much C do you need?

For preventing disease, the recommendations range from 400 to 1,000 milligrams a day.

Food Serving Vitamin C (mg)
Acerola juice 3/ 4 cup (6 ounces) 6595
Guavas 4 medium 672
Currants 1 cup 671
Guava sauce (cooked) 1/ 2 cup 405
Pineapple 1 cup 280
Grapefruit, Red or Pink 1 large 247
Grapefruit, White 1 large 206
Peaches, sliced 1 cup 200
Sweet red pepper 1/2 cup, raw chopped 141
Strawberries 1 cup, sliced 123
Strawberries 1 cup, whole 82
Orange juice 3/4 cup (6 ounces) 75
Orange 1 medium 70
Grapefruit juice 3/4 cup (6 ounces) 60
Broccoli 1/2 cup, cooked 58
Grapefruit 1/2 medium 44
Potato 1 medium, baked 26
Tomato 1 medium 23

A quick glance at the chart above shows that, unless you live in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, where you can get fresh acerola juice, getting 400 to 1,000 milligrams requires careful dietary planning. Getting the large quantities of vitamin C needed in physician-supervised therapy for glaucoma simply can't be accomplished with food. The surest way to get your vitamins for eyes is with supplementation.

A formula that provides all the nutrients you need for your eyes should include at least the following: 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta-carotene (often labeled as equivalent to 25,000 International Units of vitamin A), 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide, and two milligrams of copper as cupric oxide. Copper should be added to formulations containing zinc to prevent copper deficiency anemia, a condition associated with high levels of zinc intake.

These nutrients should be delivered in a single supplement you don't have to take with food. And if you are treating eye disease, consult with your physician about taking at least 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C in addition to your balance multivitamin.

A Trustworthy Comprehensive Product

One company that produces a balanced multivitamin with vitamin C , E, beta-carotene, zinc oxide and cupric oxide is Xtend-Life Natural Products from New Zealand. Their flagship product, Total Balance is a balanced multivitamin supplement containing everything you need for your eyes! It contains all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients you need in a single, easy-to-take blend, that you can take without food.

We take it ourselves, and are very happy with the results.

A lot more than The Best Vitamins for Eyes back at the home page.

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