Q. Dear Terry, “I feel like my vision isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be. I’ve worn glasses for most of my life, but over the past few years my prescription has been changing more frequently. What do you suggest to help with vision?” – George M., Pasadena, CA
A. Dear George, Supplementing with specific nutrients can make a big difference in our vision. A few of my favorites include astaxanthin, CoQ10, and French grape seed extract.
For anyone who spends time on a computer – and that’s many of us – astaxanthin is a perfect choice for maintaining eye health. In a clinical study of individuals who worked on computers, it reduced eye strain complaints by 54 percent in just one month. Astaxanthin can also protect the eyes from cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Clinical work shows that even one month of astaxanthin supplementation can boost the blood flow to the macula, which is the focusing center of the retina. I prefer astaxanthin that comes from the freshwater microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis.
Research shows that coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) levels in the retina can decrease by at least 40 percent with age. CoQ10 is an excellent antioxidant for eye health, as it helps preserve mitochondria function in the retina. Conditions like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other conditions have responded positively to CoQ10 supplementation.
Because CoQ10 and astaxanthin can be difficult to absorb, I think a plant-based absorption enhancer, called gamma cyclodextrin, is necessary. Gamma cyclodextrin has a strong track record in improving bioavailability. In fact, gamma cyclodextrin has been shown to boost CoQ10 absorption by as much as 800 percent. I would take 50 mg of CoQ10 and 2 mg of astaxanthin (from H. pluvialis), combined with gamma cyclodextrin, once or twice per day.
Because our eyes are nourished by some of the smallest blood vessels in the body, I also think French grape seed extract is an important addition. Grape seed extract helps protect the walls of our blood vessels from damaging free radicals. Oxidative damage in the eye can cause vision loss and cell death. Grape seed extract has also been studied for its beneficial effects on night vision. I prefer French grape seed extract with low-molecular weight oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) that are well absorbed. I would take 150 to 400 mg of grape seed extract twice per day.
Terry . . . Naturally