Approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the U.S. have vision impairment, according to the CDC’s Vision Health Initiative. A contributing factor: On average, we spend more than 13 hours daily looking at screens, according to Inspire Your View, an ebook from Kyowa Hakko.
Globally, the eye health supplements market is expected to achieve a CAGR of 6.25% during 2022-2027, Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG), Chief Scientific Officer at Nutraland USA, tells WholeFoods Magazine. “This category has many product users among the baby-boomer population,” Bruno says, “but prevalence of digital device use has also led to an increase in eye health product use by younger generations.”
Most of us take our vision for granted, assuming we’ll be able to see and do all of those typical activities of living, points out Rudrani Banik, M.D., Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, Founder and Medical Director at EnVision Health NYC, in the Naturally Informed Event Healthy Aging: Mastering the Market, “It isn’t until something goes awry that we really realize the impact of our vision and how important it is.”
The good news is that consumers are starting to get that message, and they are taking action. Kyowa Hakko shares data showing the eye supplement market has grown to roughly $889 million in domestic sales. Here, a few of the standouts that can support eye health.
“Originally, the popularity of eye health products was driven to a large extent by the AREDS studies, which examined the effects of nutraceuticals on slowing the progression of macular degeneration,” Bruno reports. “Formulas based on the AREDS studies are prevalent and have existed for 20 years. Likewise, lutein products, which provide protection against the harmful effects of blue light from digital devices, have also become relatively common. Although both types of products are solidly supported by human clinical studies, the challenge is how to differentiate an eye health product so it’s not just ‘me too.’” For that reason, Bruno suggests also considering the other carotenoids for eye health, including capsanthin, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
In Can Supplements Improve Eye Health and Vision?, Susan York Morris reports that healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids are important for eye health. Experts reporting for the American Academy of Ophthalmology explain that omega-3 oils appear to improve function in the eye’s meibomian glands, which produce the oily part of tears, and improved function of those glands can ease dry eye symptoms. “Patients with other eye diseases may benefit as well,” they share. “Omega-3s may reduce growth of abnormal blood vessels that occur in age-related macular degeneration and other retinal diseases.”
Postbiotics have emerged as a beneficial option for eye health. The branded ingredient Eyemuse from Kyowa Hakko is a heat-treated probiotic (postbiotic) of Lacticaseibacillus paracasei KW3110 that has been shown to promote healthy eye function. Research has shown that the postbiotic stimulates the immune cells that produce regulatory cytokines such as IL-10 to support eye health. By helping to induce regulatory cytokine and supporting a balanced immune response, research suggests this ingredient may help reduce occasional digital stress-related eye fatigue and other ocular discomforts.
In The 4 Best Vitamins for Eye Health and Which Foods May Improve Vision, experts point to a bevy of vitamins including A, C, E, and B vitamins.
“Vitamin A is an antioxidant and has been shown to prevent loss of vision caused by degenerative conditions, such as cataract and macular degeneration,” explains Jillian Levy, CHHC, in Eye Vitamins and Foods: Are You Getting Enough? on DrAxe.com. “Studies also show that vitamin A with other antioxidants helps slow the progression of neuropathy (nerve damage)—diabetic neuropathy—in the eyes caused by diabetes.” Levy points to a long-term study involving 3,684 adults ages 43 to 86 showing cataracts was 60% less common among people who reported using multivitamins with both vitamin E or vitamin C. Vitamin B1, which has anti-inflammatory actions, has been linked to reduced risk of cataracts.
“Studies have found that zinc in combination with other vitamins helps protect the retina and lower risk for macular degeneration,” reports Levy. “Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for helping with nutrient absorption (it’s involved in over 100 metabolic processes) and allowing for proper waste elimination, which fights inflammation and cellular damage.” WF