Nutrition & Vitamins for the Eyes

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill, Consultant Ophthalmologist

Ipoh Echo’s Eye Health series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill talking to us more about Nutrition & Vitamins for the eyes.

Good nutrition with vitamins and minerals is important for the eyes to function normally. That is why it is important to be eating the right foods that contain the right vitamins to help keep your eyes healthy.

In this issue, Dr Gill speaks about vitamin E that is important for the eye.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is important to maintain strong immunity and healthy eyes. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects our cells from damage by free radicals that result from exposure to environmental pollutants around us including cigarette smoke.

When we say vitamin E, it does not mean one vitamin but actually a group of eight vitamins called tocopherols and tocotrienols. The most active form of vitamin E is Alpha-tocopherol.

How does vitamin E help the eyes?

There was a study on cataracts involving 764 people with the average age group of 65 years. The study showed that the regular users of vitamin E supplements were less likely to have an increase in lens opacity or cataracts. Vitamin E not only helps to possibly prevent cataracts, it might help prevent macular degeneration (AMD) which is a disease affecting aging people.

Should you choose natural or synthetic vitamin E?

When you read the label on the bottle of vitamins, how would you know whether it is natural or synthetic vitamin E? Well, when vitamin E is in its natural form, it is designated with a “d-” prefix (d-alpha-tocopherol). When it is a synthetic vitamin E, it will have a “dl-” prefix (dl-alpha-tocopherol). As with most things, the natural vitamin E is more beneficial than the synthetic forms of vitamin E. So, be sure to look at the source of the vitamin should you be purchasing a bottle of vitamin E. Just look for the “d-” prefix that indicates it is from a natural source.

Does our food have enough vitamin E?

almondsIf you have a balanced diet and avoid processed foods, you should be able to get adequate vitamin E from foods such as:

  • Green leafy vegetables, example – spinach
  • Eggs
  • Nuts, Almonds
  • Vegetable Oils

How much vitamin E should you take?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) includes the vitamin E you get from both the food you eat and any supplements you take. Be sure to follow this. The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for men or women older than 14 years old is 15 milligrams (or 22.5 IU).

Does vitamin E have Side Effects?

As with anything else, too much of vitamin E is not good. This vitamin is a fat-soluble vitamin which means it can accumulate in the body if taken in large quantities, causing unwanted side-effects. It can interfere with the body’s blood clotting ability and this can be dangerous if you are taking blood thinning medication. Overdoses also can cause nausea, headache, bleeding and fatigue.

Key points to remember:

Eat a good, balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Discuss improving your diet or taking vitamin supplements with your GP.

Avoid smoking. A healthy lifestyle makes all the difference!

Dr Gill will talk more about other aspects of nutrition for the eyes in the next article.

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-545 5582) or
email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.