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Should I Take Vitamins for My Eyes?

nutrition freshly bagged parsleyThere are different eye vitamins for different reasons. It is important to know the health condition of your eyes before starting any vitamin supplement. Foods that are rich in many nutrients are generally more effective than any supplements. The most important nutrients for eye health include lutein and zeaxanthin, Vitamin C and E, beta-carotene and Omega 3 fatty acids. Top eyefoods include kale (nature’s sunscreen for the eyes), orange peppers, eggs and wild Alaskan salmon. Usually, a healthy diet that follows Canada Food Guide recommendations is sufficient.

However, busy Canadians often don’t have time to follow these meal guidelines. If the body is deficient in certain vitamins and there is a family history and associated disease, then vitamins can be beneficial. When you choose to take a vitamin, ask your doctor if a general multivitamin would be helpful, or a specific vitamin supplement is needed. Vitamins and herbal remedies are natural drugs that can be overdosed or affect how other medications work in your body, so it is important to find out what is the right vitamin for your body.

For example, dry eye syndrome affects many Calgarians, where people often use eyedrops to help. But along with artificial tears, taking a high-quality omega 3 supplement (1-3 g/day) over several months can reduce dry eye by improving the tear quality. However, a person that takes blood thinners needs to be cautious with taking omega 3 supplements, as excess bleeding and bruising can occur in the body.

green pillsAge-related macular degeneration (AMD) had a lot of research on vitamin supplements. Many people take lutein supplement thinking there is no harm in taking this to help the eyes. However, high dose lutein taken without zeaxanthin can cause a biochemical imbalance in the body and can be harmful. Many vitamins for AMD have been developed after the AREDS2 study (Age-Related Eye Disease Study). Recent controversy erupted regarding genetic testing to determine if supplemental zinc and antioxidants may actually cause more harm to the eyes. Currently, scientists generally agree that the AREDS2 study is safe for people that have been diagnosed with intermediate or advanced AMD, not for people that have healthy eyes who want to prevent AMD.

A thorough eye exam (that includes dilating the pupils for a complete retinal exam) can detect these problems before they impair vision. A diabetic can minimize the effects on the eyes by maintaining tight control of blood sugar levels, not by taking extra vitamins. The good news is that when you follow a healthy diet, it automatically helps to manage diabetes, control high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, as well as prevent eye disease.

Medicare is promoting health prevention, as this is fewer taxpayer dollars than attempting to repair the damage by surgery on eyes, or kidney dialysis and transplant. Take a moment to focus on your eyes – Dr. Dianna Leong, Dr. Anh Bui and Dr. Elizabeth Yan would be happy to help you determine how is your eye health.

Thank you for trusting your eyecare with us over the years.  The Foresight Eyecare team follows the government mandate to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  After December 2020 announcements made by the Alberta Government, our clinic is following the revised Infection Prevention and Control policy by the Alberta College of Optometrists.

Patients interested in obtaining eye exam services or eye care products can be seen by appointment only.  Please call ahead, and staff will arrange an appointment time and ask COVID-19 screening questions.  If you have any symptoms of cough, fever, runny nose or shortness of breath, we ask that you call or e-mail us and do not attend the clinic for your scheduled visit.   Within the clinic, please wear a mask and use the hand sanitizer at reception.  Our clinic complies with the City of Calgary bylaw requiring mask covering over the age of two years old.  For patients who are unable to wear a face covering due to medical reasons, the patient can be scheduled for an appointment at a time when minimal number of other patients are in the clinic such as at the beginning or end of the day to ensure appropriate physical distancing requirements.

We are using disposable disinfectant wipes on all surfaces and devices such as front desk counters, chairs, handles in exam rooms and waiting room.  All eyewear that have been touched by patients are continually being sanitized.   Any toys and magazines are stored at this time.  Examination areas are being sanitized with hospital grade disinfectant.  Debit and credit cards but NO CASH payments will be accepted.

COVID-19 symptoms are not always obvious.  We want to fend off this pandemic and minimize risk to our patients and the Foresight staff as front line health workers.   Contact that is closer than 2 m (6 feet) is to be avoided, with barriers in place when this cannot be avoided. We choose to continue to do our work and cautiously take care of our patients with compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience.   It is a challenging and new experience for many of us, so let‘s support each other and prevent virus spread!  Beyond 2020, our focus is on take care of you and keeping Clean Hands, Clear Heads and Open Hearts.   For more information, please refer to the following web pages or phone Health Link 811.

Drs. Dianna Leong, Anh Bui, Andrew Chan