What Are Vision Supplements?
How Do They Work? How Can They Help You?
People have long been concerned about their eye sight. Herbal cures for failing eye sight have been around for thousands of years. Yet dedicated vision enhancing stacks are a relatively new phenomenon.
At the time of writing, the vision enhancer market is extremely immature. Most people don’t know anything about eye supplements. They don’t know what’s possible, and they don’t know what really works. Very few people understand the difference between an actual vision enhancer and an eye health supplement.
In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about vision enhancement. We’ll explain what vision enhancers are, what they are supposed to do, and how they work. We’ll also tell you what they can’t do. We will explain the difference between an eye sight enhancer and an eye health supplement, and help you decide which is right for you.
Towards the end, we’ll give you some ways that you can improve your eye sight naturally, without the use of supplements.
Our hope is that this guide tells you everything you need to know to fully understand what vision enhancers are all about. Of course, we can’t fit everything into a single page. You’re going to have to do some reading of your own! But this page should give you good introduction to the world of eye supplementation.
If you have any questions, or you’d like to share your experiences with vision enhancement, please don’t hesitate to post in the comments section at the end. We love hearing from our readers! We aim to reply to all comments within 48 hours.
What Are Eye Supplements?
The way we see it, there are actually two types of eye supplement. On the one hand, you have vision enhancers, which are designed to actually enhance the quality of your vision. On the other hand, you have eye health supplements, which support eye function and health over the course of your life.
Of course, these two functions are related in many ways. But most eye supplements fall easily into one of these two distinct categories.
The term “vision enhancer” usually refers to supplements designed first and foremost to enhance various aspects of eye sight. They are designed primarily for people who need better vision than they currently have; they are not designed to help people overcome a certain problem with their eye sight or to help prevent eye sight degeneration. They are made for people with healthy, normal vision, but who need more than that – they need exceptional vision.
Who needs exceptional vision? Lots of people!
Here are some examples of people who commonly use vision enhancers:
- Athletes (gold, archery, shooting, baseball, skiing, driving)
- eSports competitors
- Creative professionals (photographers, painters, architects, designers)
- People who need HD vision (editors, programmers, publishers, etc)
- Model enthusiasts
- People who work in the dark
- Trades people (watch makers, carpenters, etc)
There are hundreds of examples of people who fall into this category, but we obviously don’t need to list them all here. Basically, if you need to actually improve your eye sight, putting it above the normal baseline, then you need a vision enhancer.
So what about if you just want to protect your eye sight? For that, you need an eye health supplement, which is a related but distinct category of supplement.
Eye Health Supplements
Eye health supplements do exactly what they say on the tin: they promote good eye health. More specifically, eye health supplements will both support proper eye function over the long-run and protect the eye from excessive environmental damage. Not all supplements will do both of these things; some will focus on supporting one aspect of eye health, and others will only try to protect your eye from one type of damage (e.g blue light damage). But the best ones will take multiple different lines of ‘attack’ at once.
So who can benefit from this type of supplement? Well, it turns out, most of us could.
Here is a list of people who could benefit greatly from using eye health supplements:
- People who spend a long time in the sun
- People who spend a long time looking at digital screens (that’s most of us)
- People with a diet low in anthocyanins and anti-oxidants
- People with a diet low in Vitamin A
- People with a predisposition to eye sight degradation
In our opinion, most of us will fall into one or more of these categories. Most of us spend long periods of time each and every day glued to a digital screen. Not only that, we spend hours glued to a screen that is very close to our face. We spend a decreasing amount of time outside employing our long-distance vision. This is why we are experiencing something of a myopia boom, to quote Nature.
Worryingly, more children than ever seem to be becoming shortsighted, and at younger and younger ages.
All of this tells us that a growing number of people could benefit from taking better care of their eyes!
How Do These Supplements Work?
So that’s what vision supplements are, in theory at least. But what do these supplements do in practice? How do they actually influence eye sight? What is their mechanism of action?
Because there are different types of eye supplement, each with distinct goals, there are several different mechanisms of action they can employ. Most eye supplements, however, employ some combination of the following strategies to enhance vision and protect against eye degradation.
Enhancing Blood Flow
One of the best ways to enhance vision and promote eye health is to support proper ocular circulation.
Your eye needs oxygen and nutrients to work, just like any other part of your body. Tiny blood vessels suffuse the eye and keep it supplied with these vital nutrients. Ensuring that these blood vessels are healthy, open, and operating properly is absolutely vital to ensuring good eye health going forward.
It is also a good idea if you want to optimize eye function today. You can’t expect your vision to be as sharp as it possible could be, or your night vision to be at 100%, if parts of your eye aren’t getting enough blood.
Good vision enhancers actually do a different things to help optimize ocular circulation. They can:
- Increase blood flow to and within the eye
- Improve blood vessel health
- Reduce inflammation which can damage blood vessels over time
- Enhance nutrient deliver through vasodilation and through influencing blood viscosity
Improving blood flow both to and within the eye is a very good way to improve eye health in the long run. It is a very good way to boost visual performance in the short-term too. A good, well-rounded vision enhancer should definitely help in this area.
Strengthening Macular Pigment
Perhaps the most important way that vision supplements enhance eye health and visual performance is through strengthening your macula.
The macula, or macula lutea, is a pigmented region in the center of the retina. It is slightly yellow in shape; the word macula lutea is a Latin terms which translates roughly as “yellow spot”. It is oval shaped, and typically has a diameter of about 5mm. The macula is an incredibly complex region of the eye; it can be subdivided into a number of distinct parts: the fovea, parafovea and perifovea, the umbo, and the foveola. The exact functions of these parts aren’t important for our purposes now.
What’s important for you to know is that the macula, as a whole, is responsible for generating high definition, high resolution, colored vision.
The macula also acts as ‘internal sunblock’ for the eye. Because of its yellow color, the macula is able to absorb a great deal of blue and ultraviolet light. Blue light is short wavelength, high energy light. Because of its short wavelength and high energy levels, blue light can damage the eye. This damage is small and incremental, but over a lifetime it can be significant.
If you look at the electromagnetic spectrum, you’ll notice that it is only a short distance away from ultraviolet light. Given ultraviolet light’s incremental effect on the skin, you can probably grasp how blue light might gradually damage the eye.
Blue light is emitted by the sun (along with all other visible light), as well as by digital screens. We are therefore pretty much always exposed to this potentially harmful form of electromagnetic radiation. That is probably why the condition known as Acute Macula Degeneration (AMD) is on the rise.
AMD is where the macular pigment degrades and disappears over a short period of time. As you might have guessed from our overview of the macula’s function, AMD has some pretty serious consequences. AMD is thought to be the leading cause of preventable blindness in people aged 50 and over.
Both vision enhancers and eye health supplements will therefore make it a central purpose of theirs to strengthen the macula.
Ensuring that the macula is strong, healthy, and functioning properly is one of the most reliable and effective ways to improve visual resolution, enhance color vision, and protect the eye from high-energy light damage. This last benefit can help prevent the onset of conditions such as AMD.
The main way that eye supplements do this is by delivering more of the xanthophyll carotenoids that make up the macula; namely, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. By providing more of these yellow carotenoids, vision enhancers and eye health supplements help sure-up the macula, thereby keeping it healthy and functioning properly.
Protecting Against Oxidative Stress
Another way eye supplements work is through the reduction of oxidative damage. Or to put that another way, both vision enhancers and eye health supplements improve your blood anti-oxidant profile. This prevents reactive oxygen species (ROS) from causing damage to cells.
ROS are compounds that are created during oxygen metabolism. Common examples include hydroxyl radical and a range of peroxides. They are perfectly natural; they are the by-product of a very necessary biological function – using oxygen for energy release.
However, these compounds can quickly build-up in the blood during times of environmental stress. They can be produced endogenously at a faster rate than you can get rid of them, and they can be obtained exogenously from environmental pollutants (e.g tobacco, alcohol, heavy metals, and ionizing radiation). When this happens, they can cause structural damage to cells.
Both vision enhancers and eye health supplements usually contain a potent anti-oxidant of some sort. Anti-oxidants do exactly what the name suggests – they inhibit oxidation. This means that they can prevent these reactive oxygen species from reacting with cell membranes and damaging them in the process.
In many ways, it doesn’t matter which anti-oxidant an eye health supplement uses. So long as it is effective, potent, and of decent purity, it will get the job done. Some antioxidants are more effective than others; ideally, you should be consuming a wide range of different anti-oxidants on a daily basis. You should also be getting a good range from your supplements.
Ideally, a good vision enhancer should provide some high quality fruit concentrate which delivers a cocktail of anti-oxidants.
Stimulating Rhodopsin Growth
This is not something that you will hear many manufacturers talking about, but it is a fascinating aspect of eye health supplementation and vision enhancement.
Some substances are able to actively promote rhodopsin generation.
Rhodopsin is extremely important for proper visual function; it is the compound that gives you the ability to see in low light conditions.
It is a pigment found in the rods of the retina. When rhodopsin is exposed to light, it rapidly and violently photobleaches. This makes you extremely sensitive to light – hence why sudden exposure to light after you’ve been in darkness is so jarring, almost painful.
Rhodopsin basically initiates the visual phototransduction pathway, where light is converted to electrical signals by the retina and transmitted to the brain.
Well, we now know that some substances can actively facilitate and even trigger the production of new rhodopsin. A class of compounds called anthocyanosides has been shown to simultaneously block the production of enzymes which degrade rhodopsin and to actively promote the production of new rhodopsin.
It should be obvious that doing this will have a profound effect on your ability to see in low light conditions, not to mention your ability to recover from glare and to adjust to differing light conditions.
Do Vision Enhancers Really Work? – Scientific Proof
As always when we reach this section, we’re going to cut right back on baseless claims and waffling. We’re going to just throw a load of studies at you. These studies show how certain substances significantly improve various aspects of visual function. We’re not going to be exhaustive here; we’re just going to give you a good overview of the existing literature.
If you want to know more, or you want to see how strong these correlations are, then we strongly advise you to do your own research. A good place to start is by looking at the bibliographies of the papers we have cited.
So, let’s get on with it.
The antioxidant activity of various substances has been shown to significantly reduce eye damage, as measured by the occurrence of select eye conditions.
In this study, published in Molecular Vision in 2013, supplementation with saffron was shown to reduce cataract formation. The researchers posited that this was due to saffron’s bolstering of the rat’s anti-oxidant status.
The authors of the paper concluded thus: “These findings highlight the anticataractogenic potential of saffron by virtue of its antioxidant property.”
Similarly, this trial (also conducted on rats) found that administration of saffron was able to protect eye cell RNA from damage when subjects were exposed to intense bright light for prolonged periods.
Of course, saffron is not the only source of antioxidants. Lots of fruits and vegetables contain large concentrations of antioxidants. As we said above, the best thing to do is to get lots of different antioxidants from different sources. But these studies show just how powerful and effect some antioxidants can have on eye health and functionality.
A lot of you will be most interested in vision enhancers’ effects on the macula, especially given what we said above.
Can vision supplements really strengthen the macula pigment?
Can they genuinely prevent acute macular degeneration?
A look at the latest scientific literature tells us yes, yes they can.
We now know for certain that lutein supplementation directly increases macular pigment density. This is why lutein supplementation has been found to expand visual field, significantly improve glare recovery, and to aid with contrast sensitivity.
Many studies have looked at two of the main macular carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin – in combination. This cocktail seems to have an even more pronounced effect on visual acuity and glare recovery than lutein or zeaxanthin alone.
In this trial, for example, took 34 subjects and investigated how they performed in low-light conditions. Participants were either given lutein, zeaxanthin, both, or neither. The experiment lasted 6 months. At the end of the trial, the researchers found that both lutein and zeaxanthin had a positive effect on low light acuity.
The authors wrote the following conclusion: “The results suggest that supplementation with L or Z increases MPOD at the fovea and at 2.5 degrees , and that supplementation can improve CATs at high mesopic levels and hence visual performance at low illumination.”
Interestingly, there is a growing body of research showing that targeted supplementation might be able to significantly reduce the likelihood of experiencing AMD.
The risk of developing age-related AMD was highest in people who showed the lowest concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin.
The researchers concluded: “These findings provide support for the view that zeaxanthin may protect against age-related macular degeneration.”
The study was limited to people aged 66-75 from Sheffield, UK. However, the results are broadly applicable. The same mechanism which prevented the occurrence of AMD in these people would theoretically apply to most people. 380 people were used, making the trial extremely valuable.
Other trials, such as this one, have found that “Lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation is a safe strategy for improving visual performance of AMD patients, which mainly showed in a dose-response relationship.”
These results are all fairly uniform and highly conclusive.
Supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin is an absolute must if you are seriously concerned with protecting your macula from degradation.
It is also a very good idea if you are looking to enhance your vision. Reinforcing the macula, we now know, can improve visual acuity, enhance night vision, and expand the visual field.
Finally, let’s look at how vision enhancers might promote rhodopsin regeneration.
Our main source for this link is this paper, published in Photochemistry and Photobiology in 2009. It discusses how anthocyanins – the compounds that give color to fruits and vegetables – trigger rhodopsin regeneration in the retina. The paper notes that “regeneration of purified rhodopsin in detergent micelles is also accelerated in the presence of C3G. ”
The authors cite this study, in which researchers made the following statement: “Cyanidin 3-glycosides, glucoside and rutinoside, stimulated the regeneration, but the corresponding delphinidins showed no significant effect.”
This link needs a lot more scrutiny, but these early results are extremely exciting. It seems that vision enhancers might be able to actively increase rhodopsin production, thereby improving night vision and contrast sensitivity.
The Dangers – Are Vision Enhancers Safe?
How safe are eye supplements? That is one of the most common questions we see being asked online, and we’re not surprised. Vision enhancers are a completely new class of supplements; they are poorly understood, and it’s unlikely that you know anybody who has used them before.
While the initial trepidation is understandable, it generally isn’t warranted.
The vision enhancers we review on this site are all composed of fruit extracts, herbs, minerals, vitamins, and natural antioxidants. The eye health supplements you find at your local supplement store are almost always going to be made up of natural plant material (although in a refined, purified form).
The ingredients used in vision enhancers today have normally been tested on humans. Ingredients typically found in eye supplements are thought to be generally safe for regular human consumption.
There may be some pharmaceutical-grade eye sight enhancers out there. We don’t discuss these on our site, and if we do, we’ll make the risks patently clear.
When it comes to natural vision enhancers – the kind we write about – side effects are incredibly rare.
However, that doesn’t mean that all eye supplements are 100% safe, or safe for every single user. These stacks contain unusual plant extracts and concentrates; material you will not be used to consuming from your regular diet – at least not in those quantities. It is vital that you read each label carefully and assess the risks based on your own specific medical history, allergies, and circumstances.
For example, if your diet is already dangerously high in Vitamin A (which can be toxic), you shouldn’t be adding in more through supplements.
Likewise, if you’re currently using a prescribed eye medication, or you have a serious eye problem, you NEED to talk to a doctor before you use any natural vision enhancers. There may be some unusual interactions between ingredients, or you may end up double-dosing.
It is VITAL that you understand the following facts while visiting our website:
- We are not doctors, or medical professionals of any kind
- This is not intended to be medical advice
- You MUST speak to your doctor before using any natural substances
It is crucial that you do your own research before you start using any supplements – for any reason – regardless of how safe they may seem. It is imperative that you consult with your regular family physician too; only they understand your unique medical circumstances, so only they can give you the advice you need to stay safe. All we can do is point out the most obvious side effect and health risk factors.
Our writings are based on our own research and (considerable) experience. That is all!
Should You Use A Vision Enhancer?
Whether or not you could benefit from a vision enhancer depends on a number of variables: what your job is, what your hobby entails, how old you are, what your diet is like, and so on. How much you could potentially benefit from an eye health supplement depends on myriad factors too, such as family history of eye diseases, occupation, and lifestyle.
It also isn’t always clear which type of supplement is best for you: a vision enhancer or an eye health supplement.
You need to think very hard about what it is you are looking to achieve before you make any decisions, and definitely long before you part with any cash! You also really need to talk to a doctor before you try to use natural supplements to enhance your eye sight; there may be considerations particular to you and your circumstances that we haven’t covered here!
If you think you might be experiencing some sort of serious visual impairment, then you really need to get proper medical attention. Natural vision enhancers are not the solution that that problem!
However, generally speaking, who should use which supplements can be divided up in the following way:
- Vision enhancers are for:
- People who need to increase visual acuity, improve night vision, and enhance contrast sensitivity
- People who need to protect against eye strain
- People who need to foster high acuity, high definition, detailed color vision
- Eye health supplement are for:
- Older people wanting to protect their eye sight for as long as possible
- People who spend a long time staring at screens
- People who spend long periods in the sun
- People with elevated risk of experiencing AMD or cataracts
- People who are regularly exposed to environmental pollutants and ROS
Now, many people will fall into both categories. Lots of these points could apply to a single person at the same time. In fact, we think it’s probably that most of us can relate to 3 or more of these points.
That is why we think the best way to approach supplementation is to use a holistic, multifaceted vision enhancer which both protects the eye from damage, supports eye health, and enhances multiple different aspects of visual performance.