Ranking the best eye vitamins of 2020

Ranking the best eye vitamins of 2020
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Eye vitamins are supplements that support and improve your ability to see. Getting the right level of vitamins and minerals for your eyes can help maintain your vision as you get older.  

Large, multi-site clinical trials have demonstrated that the right eye vitamin can prevent macular degeneration in adults over 50 and retain the same quality of eyesight that you had when you were young.

Our research team has evaluated the best eye supplements out there according to the latest clinical research recommendations and found your best options for protecting and preserving your eyesight as you get older.

Rankings

1. VitaBalance Lutenol

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Don’t let impaired vision slow you down. Whether you’re dealing with age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, or poor cataracts, use VitaBalance Lutenol to give your eyes the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

This formula contains the powerful antioxidant, Lutein, to protect your eyes from light exposure, and Zeaxanthin to protect the retina from light damages, as well as zinc and vitamins A, C, and E to protect, strengthen, and repair your eyes.

Together, it’s the most potent formula we’ve seen for your eyes—supporting healthy eye function and improving retina, lens and macula health.

That’s probably because Lutenol was developed in response to scientific research into the natural ingredients that improve eye health and function.

All natural. Made in an FDA-registered facility that follows GMP guidelines.

The all-around eye vitamin winner of 2020.

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2. Performance Lab Vision

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Performance Lab Vision aims to improve macular health, improving the resolution of your eyesight, boosting night vision and aiding hand-eye coordination.

It contains scientifically backed ingredients such as Lutein and Zeaxanthin; when combined together, these two ingredients have been found to increase macular pigment levels and protect the eyes from harmful blue light (from digital devices such as telephones, tablets, laptops) and oxidation

The manufacturers also claim that it may also help to reduce eye fatigue and screen-related eye strain, a big problem for a lot of us in this 24/7 switched-on world.

3. Vision Support + by Nuzena

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Nuzena is a new, premium supplement line famous for its potent concentrations.

Taking a closer look into the Vision Support + formula we were pleased to find that it included all of the key antioxidant ingredients that you’d expect to see in an eye health supplement — a healthy dose of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Quercetin.

Where Nuzena starts to separate itself from some of the other supplements we’ve reviewed is in the supporting ingredients. The formula also contains a solid base of Vitamins A, C, D, and the B complex, as well as trace minerals such as Magnesium, Zinc, and Selenium — really great to see.

Nuzena claims that Vision Support + will help users support macular health and help provide support for AMD (Age related Macula Degeneration). Looking at the ingredients and some of the scientific studies supporting them we think those claims seem reasonable.

Solid choice.

4. Bausch+Lomb PreserVision AREDS 2

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Bausch+Lomb PreserVision is an eye vitamin that carries the precise formulation tested in the AREDS 2 clinical trial that was proven to substantially reduce the risk of macular degeneration in adults over 50.

This advanced formula follows the scientific prescription to a T, with lutein and zeaxanthin replacing the beta-carotene in the original AREDS formulation. It’s a good choice if you want to protect your eyesight as you get older.

5. Focus Select

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Focus Select is a nearly direct reproduction of the AREDS 2 formula and is intended to be taken twice per day.

While its copper content is just a touch lower than it ought to be, this is about the only flaw you can find with this eye vitamin. It’s got all the right ingredients and doesn’t go beyond what’s necessary for optimal eye health in old age.

6. Lipotriad Visionary

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Lipotriad Visionary is an eye vitamin that’s well-suited for people who don’t want any artificial coloring agents or fillers in their eye vitamin. It’s got just the ingredients that work, and nothing extra. It follows the AREDS2 trial recommendations, though its vitamin C content is far below the clinically effective dose, even if you take two servings per day. If your dietary vitamin C content is high, this might not be an issue. The zeaxanthin content, however, is excellent compared to many other supplements on the market, which lands it high in the rankings.

7. Systane ICaps

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Systane ICaps is an evidence-based eye vitamin that goes beyond the basic clinical trial recommendations and includes additional trace elements like manganese and selenium.

It’s a modified version of the original AREDS formula, which used beta-carotene instead of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Because of the beta-carotene content, cigarette smokers should opt for a different supplement, but if you want additional vitamins and minerals that could support proper eye function, it’s a good choice.

8. BeLive Lutein & Zeaxanthin Gummies

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BeLive Lutein & Zeaxanthin is a well-balanced eye vitamin that largely follows the AREDS 2 clinical trial recommendations, though doesn’t quite have the same vitamin content.

The zinc content is a little low, and the presence of sugar alcohol might be an issue for some people.

They are good, however, if you don’t handle pills very well: these gummies are chewable, making them more palatable and easy to take.

9. EyePromise Zeaxanthin + Lutein

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EyePromise Zeaxanthin + Lutein is a supplement that consists solely of zeaxanthin and lutein in equal doses of 10 mg per serving.

It’s a solid choice if you really want the highest zeaxanthin content that you can get, as it has up to five times the dosage of many other eye vitamins on the market.

However, it’s lacking in some of the critical minerals that support eye health, like zinc and copper, not to mention other clinically-proven ingredients like vitamins C and E.

10. Zenwise Health Marigold-Derived Lutein

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Zenwise Health makes a lutein supplement that is sourced from natural materials. The lutein and zeaxanthin content is solid, at 20 mg and 1 mg per serving, respectively.

With one capsule in the morning and one in the evening, you’d easily hit the optimal intake of these vitamins for eye health.

In contrast, lack of any of the other essential vitamins and minerals for eye health, like vitamins C and E as well as copper and zinc, make it less suitable for people concerned about long-term eye health.

11. Made in Utah Eye Health Formula

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Made in Utah has an “extended” eye health formula that’s got many ingredients more than the clinical trial standard.

Its zinc and copper content are solid, though the lutein—one of the critical ingredients—is blended in with a proprietary mixture, making it hard to tell whether the lutein content conforms to the current best practices.

While the dosage is low, this supplement does include beta-carotene, so it’s a no-go for smokers.

12. Healths Harmony Lutein Eye Vitamins

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Healths Harmony Lutein Eye Vitamins are a blend of scientifically validated vitamins and minerals alongside herbal treatments like quercetin, bilberry, and grape seed extract.

These are strong antioxidants which the manufacturer claims can assist with improving vision. This supplement also contains a very high dose of beta carotene, which means smokers should definitely avoid it.

13. Puritan’s Pride Lutigold Lutein 40

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Puritan’s Pride focuses on the beta-carotene derivative lutein, along with a related compound called zeaxanthin. The lutein content is great, at four times the usual dose for clinical trials.

The zeaxanthin content, however, is a little lacking. It only contains 1.6 mg per serving, while the standard dose used in clinical trials is 2 mg.

The lack of any other beneficial eye vitamins hurts, too, making this supplement only useful if you are solely interested in upping your dietary lutein intake to help your eyes.

Who should buy eye vitamins?

If you are getting older and you want to preserve your vision, an eye vitamin is an easy and effective way to sustain healthy eyes as you get older.

Eye vitamins are in a relatively small group of supplements that have been studied exhaustively in large, multi-site clinical studies and been proven effective. The National Institutes of Health funded multiple randomized trials that studied specific eye vitamin formulations to prevent macular degeneration, which is a significant cause of vision loss in older adults.

By combining several vitamins and minerals that are associated with ocular function, the researchers and doctors behind the original eye vitamin formulations were able to craft a combination of ingredients that helps preserve eye function and prevent the degeneration and loss of vision that too often comes hand in hand with aging.

In modern supplement research, eye vitamins have been one of the biggest success stories—careful selection of multiple ingredients often goes awry because of unanticipated interactions among the ingredients in a supplement, but in the case of eye vitamins, the clinical trials have been a resounding success. 

Eye vitamins are a proven, effective treatment to slow or prevent macular degeneration. If you know you’re at risk (for example, if you’ve had family members with macular degeneration), an eye vitamin should definitely be a part of your supplementation routine as you get older.

One downside of the intense focus on using eye vitamins for macular degeneration is that we know less about whether eye vitamins also help slow or prevent some of the other age-related changes in vision, like the loss of close-up vision.

Nevertheless, because the ingredients in eye vitamins are known to have a powerful biological effect on the eyes (thanks to their anti-macular degeneration effect), there is good reason to believe that they may be effective for other eye conditions and overall eye function as well.

While younger people don’t need to worry about taking an eye vitamin just yet, once you are age 40 or 50, taking an eye vitamins is a very good idea if you are looking to preserve your visual acuity. 

How we ranked

For our eye vitamin rankings,we had a plethora of scientific research to refer to when evaluating the quality of specific formulations. Among all of the eye vitamin products on the market, we looked for those that had ingredients that have been proven to protect your vision as you get older.

These are largely the ingredients used in the two main versions of AREDS, the age-related eye disease study: specifically, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, copper, lutein, or zeaxanthin.

There are other vitamins, minerals, and supplements that more preliminary research has suggested might help protect your eyes and your visual acuity as well, but the AREDS ingredients are the gold standard. As such, we only included eye vitamins in our list if they included at least some of the AREDS ingredients. 

We also evaluated the dosage of the active ingredients, comparing them to the gold standard formulations used in clinical trials.

The closer the match, the better the product in question scored. We also looked specifically to see whether an eye vitamin chose to employ beta-carotene or lutein plus zeaxanthin: earlier versions of research-grade eye vitamins used beta-carotene, which was quite effective.

However, public health researchers found that beta-carotene increased the risk of cancer in smokers—the antioxidant effect interacts with the carcinogens in cigarette smoke. As such, later versions use lutein and zeaxanthin instead, which is still effective but is safe for smokers.

While this distinction doesn’t matter if you aren’t a smoker, we wanted our top-rated supplement to be something that anyone could take to sustain good vision in old age, even if they do smoke. As such, beta-carotene based formulations scored lower than ones that used the more modern lutein and zeaxanthin combination. 

Finally, as usual, we evaluated supplements on their overall purity and ingredient design. Products that had excessive binders, fillers, and excipients saw a decrease in their score, while products with a clean, minimal, and effective formulation were ranked highly.

After sorting the remaining products by overall score, we had our final rankings of the top eye vitamins on the market. These are your best bet if your are looking for a supplement to preserve your vision as you get older. 

Benefits

Taking an eye vitamin is one of the best things you can do to ensure that your vision stays strong as you get older. Vision loss, especially through macular degeneration, is one of the biggest causes of a loss of quality of life in people as they age.

The right combination of vitamins and minerals can nourish and protect your eyesight, ensuring that you can live life to the fullest even as you get older.

An eye vitamin can protect your vision from degrading. Based on a wealth of scientific literature, the National Institutes of Health launched a major clinical trial in the mid-1990s that tested a new vitamin and mineral supplement on the rate of advanced macular degeneration, which is one of the leading causes of vision loss in adults over 50 (1).

This study used a combination of several vitamins and minerals that were known to be critical for proper functioning of the eyes: beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and copper.

This supplement was prepared and tested against a placebo at eleven different clinics, enrolling over 3000 participants (2). These decisions were based on earlier research which showed promising results with each of these nutrients individually.

The participants in this double-blind clinical trial were followed for over six years and the incidence of macular degeneration was recorded.

The results showed that the supplement conferred a 28% decreased risk of macular degeneration, and moreover, this occurred without any statistically significant increase in reported side effects compared to placebo.

Eye vitamins should contain lutein and zeaxanthin for optimal results. While the results of this first trial, termed the AREDS study (Age-Related Eye Disease Study), were impressive, scientists saw room for improvement.

First, research had come out in the interim time between when the study was launched and when the results were known that indicated that high beta-carotene intake was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer among people who smoke, so the researchers wanted to rework the formula to make it safe for smokers to take.

This was especially important considering that cigarette smoking is a risk factor for macular degeneration in its own right.

Researchers replaced beta-carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin, two related compounds that appeared capable of providing the same benefits as beta-carotene without the risks to smokers.

Zinc is important for eye health, but the dosage does not need to be particularly high. Some experts also suggested lowering the dose of zinc, and emerging research suggested that omega 3 fatty acids could provide additional benefits for preserving eyesight.

Because of this, a second trial, termed AREDS 2, was launched (3). This study used over 4000 participants and tested variants of the original AREDS eye vitamin formula.

After testing four different variants of the eye vitamin supplement, the researchers concluded that replacing beta-carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin was just as beneficial as the original beta carotene version.

The reduction in zinc content did not alter the effectiveness of the supplement, and the addition of omega 3 fatty acids did not further improve the risk reduction for vision degeneration in old age.

A formula that includes zinc, copper, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, and vitamin E is the gold standard for eye health. Right now, the AREDS2 formulation is supported by the best possible scientific evidence.

While it’s likely that further research will uncover new ingredients or a better-optimized formulation, the AREDS2 supplement recipe is the best we’ve got right now.

As such, all the best eye vitamins will contain at least the key ingredients used in this clinical trial. You’ll want to make sure your eye vitamin follows the dosage guidelines established in the scientific research for optimal results.

Side effects

Incredibly, even though supplements based on the AREDS formulation are very effective at protecting your vision as you get older, they don’t seem to cause any significant side effects when used at the recommended dosage.

There were mild side effects reported in the clinical trials, but the rate of these side effects was no different than the rate of people reporting “side effects” from the placebo!

One important note concerns eye vitamin formulations that contain vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. These are fine for most people, but anyone who uses tobacco should not take a supplement that contains beta carotene or vitamin A.

This is because this supplement has been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer (4). A major clinical trial on using beta-carotene in people at high risk for lung cancer was actually halted almost two years early after the researchers observed that those in the treatment group were being diagnosed with lung cancer at an increased rate compared to the placebo group.

Recommended dose

Though rare in supplement research, the massive clinical trials on eye vitamins provide crystal-clear instructions on the optimal daily dosage of each of the most effective eye vitamins (5).

Vitamin C and vitamin E should be taken at 500 mg and 400 mg each, while the zinc content can be between 25 and 80 mg.

Copper, at a dose of 2 mg, should not be skipped, and the formulation is rounded out with 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin.

These vitamins and minerals, at these dosages, should be split into two equal doses, taken in the morning and in the evening, like eye drops.

FAQ

Q: What are the most important eye vitamins? 

A: When it comes to ingredients, there is no denying that the critical ingredients in an eye vitamins are vitamins C and E, the minerals copper and zinc, and beta carotene or its derivatives.

The antioxidant ability of vitamins C, E, and beta carotene-related compounds appear to play a role in preventing macular degeneration, which may indicate that an inflammatory process is at the heart of macular degeneration related vision loss.

Beta carotene and the related compounds lutein and zeaxanthin may be linked to slowing or preventing cataracts through different mechanisms (6).

The mineral ingredient zinc also exerts a clear benefit, because variants of eye vitamins that do not have zinc in them do not perform as well as those that do have zinc. You’ll find many formulations of eye vitamins on the market that have other ingredients in them, such as omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil, or herbal extracts that are thought to improve vision. However, these ingredients are of secondary importance.

Q: Do eye vitamins really work? 

A: Yes, we can say with a strong degree of confidence that eye vitamins do what they are designed to do—slow or prevent the progression of age-related vision loss.

In particular, gold-standard clinical trials have demonstrated a significant reduction in macular degeneration in older adults that can be attributed directly to the effects of eye vitamins. All of that being said, it’s important to point out that some people have a distorted impression of what eye vitamins are really supposed to do.

They’re not going to completely reverse vision loss, and they also aren’t going to eliminate the need for you to wear your glasses—these are just a supplement, not LASIK surgery.

However, the results in favor of eye vitamins are some of the strongest findings when it comes to major studies on using simple, over the counter supplements to prevent serious health problems. 

Q: What is AREDS and AREDS2 eye vitamins? 

A: AREDS is an acronym for ‘Age-related eye disease study,’ which was a major initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health to investigate the progression of some of the biggest sources of vision loss later in life, including cataracts and macular degeneration.

As part of this study, researchers incorporated a large clinical trial that tested the effects of an eye vitamin formulation on the progression of macular degeneration.

The researchers hypothesized that a specific vitamin formulation would help slow or prevent macular degeneration, and the results proved them right—after the researchers compared eye health in the people who took the eye vitamin for five years to the group of people who took a placebo pill for five years, the eye vitamin group had a significantly smaller chance of progression of macular degeneration.

An eye vitamin that follows this original formulation is called an ‘AREDS’ vitamin, because it uses the same ingredients used in the original study.

A follow-up study was conducted called AREDS2, which tested the effect of several changes to the eye vitamin formulation.

The biggest change was substituting beta carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin, because beta carotene might increase the risk of cancer in smokers. Again, an eye vitamin that uses this new, improved formula (which was also successful at slowing or preventing macular degeneration) is called an ‘AREDS2 eye vitamin’. 

Q: What do eye vitamins do? 

A: Eye vitamins help to preserve your vision as you get older. They are thought to work by providing your body with antioxidants to prevent damage to your ocular tissue, and by providing your body with essential minerals that play a role in creating enzymes that help with ocular function.

Though the exact mechanisms responsible for the effects of eye vitamins are not fully understood, the strength of their benefits are—if you want to prevent vision loss as you get older, eye vitamins are a great way to do it. 

Q: Can you get vitamins for eye floaters? 

A: While eye vitamins have been studied for a variety of eye conditions, including cataracts and macular degeneration, floaters have not been studied as one of the conditions that can be helped by an eye vitamin.

You might find anecdotal reports that certain eye vitamins help with floaters, but there are no clinical trials that support this claim just yet. Floaters are caused by slight imperfections in a transparent portion of the eye. In most cases, they do not require treatment, though it is possible to treat severe cases with laser therapy or surgery.

Q: Can you get vitamins for your eyes in fruits and vegetables? 

A: Many of the important ingredients in eye vitamins can be found in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is, of course, found widely in citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables are great sources of vitamin E.

Zinc and copper can likewise be found legumes, and beta carotene is best-known for its high concentration in carrots. However, getting the right ratios of all of these vitamins and minerals is tricky if you are relying fully on fruits and vegetables to maintain your eye health.

While a poor diet with few fruits and vegetables is known to be a risk factor for age related vision loss, the best solution from scientific research is still to take an eye vitamin that provides the right ratios of vitamins and minerals to stave off vision loss. 

Q: What are the best eye vitamins for macular degeneration? 

A: If you have macular degeneration and want to slow its progression, or if you know you are at risk for macular degeneration and want to decrease the chance that you get it, you should get an eye vitamin that follows the AREDS or AREDS2 formulation.

These were major clinical trials that demonstrated the efficacy of a specific eye vitamin formulation on slowing and preventing macular degeneration. If you are a current or former smoker, you should definitely opt for the AREDS2 formulation; if you’ve never smoked before, the original AREDS formulation is fine, but AREDS2 is generally preferable.

A high quality supplement from our rankings, like VitaBalance Lutenol or Bausch + Long PreserVision AREDS 2, is a great choice if you have macular degeneration or are at risk for it.

Risk factors for macular degeneration include age (obviously), as well as smoking, excessive sun exposure, obesity, a poor-quality diet, family history of macular degeneration, and cardiovascular disease. If you have any of these risk factors, an AREDS-based eye vitamin should definitely be a priority. 

Q: What vitamins help with dark under eye circles?

A: If you have dark circles under your eyes, an eye vitamin isn’t going to help much—under eye bags and darkness is a skin problem, while eye vitamins are designed for ocular health.

Instead, try an under eye cream, especially one with retinol in it. Retinol-based eye creams can help reverse the damage caused by aging and sun exposure, which is at the root of dark circles and baggy skin under your eyes.

Interestingly, a few risk factors for age-related vision loss are also risk factors for wrinkles and under eye bags, specifically, obesity and excessive sun exposure. These both underscore the inflammatory and oxidative damage processes that underlie both of these conditions. 

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Recap

Eye vitamins should be a central part of your supplementation routine if you are over 50.

The high rate of vision loss in older adults, combined with the huge detrimental impact on quality of life that comes along with losing your vision, means you should be doing everything you can to preserve your eyesight as you get older.

Look for an eye vitamin that follows the ingredients most effective in clinical research: vitamins C & E, zinc, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  These are the most important vitamins for protecting your vision.

If you use tobacco, you should be particularly careful not to take an eye vitamin that contains beta-carotene. Fortunately, the reduction in risk for vision loss is substantial when you take the right eye vitamin at the right dosage, so you can look ahead to clear vision in old age.

For BodyNutrition‘s #1 eye vitamin recommendation, click here.





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