Do you suffer from impaired vision? Perhaps you’ve had glasses or contacts since you were a child, or just recently developed less-than-perfect sight. Regardless of your eye situation, you most likely have heard of LASIK – a popular surgical procedure that promises to correct your vision with minimal pain or side effects. Well, you might want to think twice before jumping on the LASIK bandwagon.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning a large national study to examine the side effects associated with having LASIK amid increasing patient complaints and concerns about psychological problems in those who experience complications.
Over 1.3 million Americans have LASIK every year, and according to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, 2 to 3 percent of patients experience complications. On the patient release form signed before the surgery is performed, problems with night vision, double vision, dry eyes and flap dislocation are commonly mentioned, but depression and increased suicide risk are not. The study hopes to uncover more information regarding these potential side effects.
Surgery aside, there are alternative ways to improve vision. In an Italian study published in the journal Ophthalmology in 2008, patients who took vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, copper, lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin every day for 12 months experienced improved vision in the central retina area. Another study, sponsored by the National Eye Institute, indicated that a diet filled with carotenoid-rich foods, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Take a closer look at these and other eye-healthy natural supplements:
Zinc: A lack of this mineral has been linked to poor night vision. Rich food sources include lean meats, beans, and seafood. If you take a zinc supplement, they are most effective taken one or two hours before a meal, or can be taken with a meal if the zinc causes stomach upset. Copper is commonly combined with zinc to offset the possible loss of copper associated with taking zinc supplements.
Bilberry: A fruit that is similar to a blueberry, bilberries are filled with antioxidants and are believed to improve myopia (nearsightedness) and ease work-related eyestrain.
Beta-carotene: A carotenoid found in carrots and other vegetables, beta-carotene has long been praised for its vision-improving properties.
Lutein and Zeazanthin: These two carotenoids can be found in the retina and lens of the eye. A diet rich in both may slow vision loss cause by macular degeneration and cataracts.
Astaxanthin: Another carotenoid, astaxanthin is extracted from algae and is believed to benefit overall healthy vision.
Vitamins A and C: Vitamins A and C have been shown to slow the progression of age-related vision loss and delay the onset of cataracts.
Eyebright: This herb reportedly strengthens eyes and decreases sensitivity to light.
If you suffer from poor vision, you may want to try these alternative methods before signing up for surgery – at least until more information is known on the possible side effects of the procedure.