28,000 blinks a day, 6 eye movement muscles, perception of 2 million colours: our eyes accomplish extraordinary feats to enable us to view our environment in detail. So they deserve our full attention!
To protect these precious windows on the world, try to adopt these helpful tips on a daily basis:
A fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin A plays a crucial role in many biological functions. Amongst others, it is involved in metabolising iron, and in maintaining normal immune function and healthy skin (4-6).
However, it was in the retina that vitamin A was first isolated! As you know, the retina is the innermost membrane lining the eyeball. It is responsible for converting light signals into electrical impulses transmitted to the central nervous system which then translates them into images. To do this, the retina is equipped with two types of photoreceptor: rods and cones. The rods, which work in low light, ensure monochrome vision in darkness. The cones are responsible for our perception of colour when light levels are higher.
Vitamin A helps to maintain normal vision by participating in the production of rhodopsin (visual purple) (7). This reddish-purple pigment absorbs light in the retina’s rods, and is thus much in demand when the eyes need to adapt to darkness. Vitamin A also plays a role in maintaining ‘mucous membranes’, including the conjunctiva covering the delicate cornea (8).
The body cannot produce vitamin A and it therefore needs to be provided by the diet, in two main ways: either through direct intake of preformed vitamin A from animal-source products (retinol), or through consumption of plant-source foods rich in carotenoids (beta-carotene).
The realisation that bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) offered benefits for the ‘windows to the soul’ dates back a long way. As far back as the Middle Ages, the visionary healer Hildegarde de Bingen had already identified them as an invaluable aid for failing eyesight. Much later, this blue-black berry became very popular with British fighter pilots in the Second World War for helping to maintain their visual acuity on night flights.
Since then, this member of the Ericaceae family has continued to interest scientists, in particular, for its high content of anthocyanins, the pigments that give the bilberry its dark colour. It appears that bilberries help to maintain eye health and visual function through antioxidant action and venous support (9-11).
Amongst others, they play a role in stabilising the formation of collagen in the eyes, a key substance for the cohesion and protection of eye tissue. In addition, they support the health of veins and capillaries which supply the optical nerve and corneal limbus, ensuring an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients.
As you can see, a supplement that’s good for the eyes needs to feature retinol and bilberry in its composition.
The perfect synergistic formulation would also include carotenoids (astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, lutein) and other promising compounds (such as anthocyanosides, anthocyanins, polyphenols or quercetin) (12).
Which is precisely the case with the supplement OptiVision which contains a total of 15 exceptional compounds, with the emphasis on natural ingredients: retinol and bilberry extract of course, but also carotenoids, glutathione, extract of grape seed, marigold, Schisandra berries ...
There are other substances that can also help you take care of your eyes.
Highly present in the retina, DHA helps to maintain healthy vision (13-14). It’s therefore well worth considering supplementing with this particular omega-3 fatty acid (try, for example, the product Super DHA, an environmentally-friendly formulation of DHA and EPA obtained from sustainable fishing).
Another of Nature’s important resources is maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster) which helps to maintain eye health specifically by supporting vascularisation (15). To obtain its benefits, try a targeted eye health supplement (such as Eye Pressure Control, a formulation enriched with bilberry and vitamin E).
It’s always a good idea - not just for your eyes but for your overall health - to fight against the oxidation processes that speed up cellular ageing, by eating a diet high in antioxidant-rich, highly-coloured fruits and vegetables (16). If you want to boost your intake, try a super-comprehensive supplement (such as AntiOxidant Synergy, a really powerful formulation that includes turmeric, grape seed and resveratrol).
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