Protecting Your Eyes with Key Ocular Nutrients

It is no secret that vision tends to decline as we age. While much of this vision loss is par-for-the-course in the physical process of aging that all of our bodies undergo, there are several scientifically-backed nutritional changes that can be made to support the longevity of our vision as we mature into our later years. Metabolic Maintenance’s VitalEyes™ Complete Ocular Formula has been designed around hard scientific evidence, providing optimal levels of ocular nutrients to protect your eyes from common, age-related degradation and damage, thereby prolonging the strength of your vision.

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

The leading causes of irreversible vision loss, and eventual legal blindness in older adults, are cataracts and a condition called “age-related macular degeneration”, or ARMD. The macula is the part of the retina responsible for central vision, and as we age past 40 years the likelihood of degeneration in this retinal component begins to increase exponentially [1]. There are no known, proven treatments yet available for ARMD, although a great deal of research is currently being conducted to elucidate the mechanisms that may be targeted for the development of therapeutics.

One strong hypothesis for the mechanisms behind the pathogenesis of ARMD is oxidative damage to the retina [2]. Due to this hypothesis, the “AREDS” study (or Age-Related Eye Disease Study) was conducted to test the effects of zinc and antioxidant vitamins on the progression of ARMD in older adult subjects. Often with vitamin research, it is difficult to find substantial scientific evidence for a conclusive outcome due to study design. AREDS, however, is highly-renowned, as it was designed to be large-scale, placebo-controlled, multicentered, randomized, and double-blind. This study provided valuable scientific evidence that supplementation with these nutrients (specifically zinc, vitamins C and E, and beta carotene) does positively and effectively support the health of aging eyes and vision [2].

A similar study that followed, known as AREDS2, was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of additional nutrients on the advancement of ARMD. AREDS2 also tested some varying levels of the nutrients provided in the original AREDS study, in order to determine optimal amounts of each nutrient for maximum efficacy of supplementation. To summarize the outcome of the study, it was determined that lutein and zeaxanthin are appropriate additions for an ocular-protectant or vision support supplement [3].

The Veterans LAST (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial) study similarly investigated the effects of lutein on visual function and the symptoms of ARMD. This study reported that lutein, alone or in combination with other nutrients, had a significant, positive effect on visual function [4].

Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only two carotenoids found in the macula. They are classified as phytonutrients and dietary xanthophylls and have long been associated with eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin work together to make a yellow-colored pigment within the retina. This yellow pigment absorbs blue light, protecting the underlying photoreceptor cell layer from light damage, which can be initiated by the formation of reactive oxygen species during a photosensitized reaction [5]. There is evidence to show that the more macular pigment one expresses in the retina, the lower the incidence of ARMD, and the abundance of macular pigment can be increased by increasing consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin [5]. Therefore, it is highly likely that supplementation with these nutrients will support the longevity of vision and prolong the ocular health of those at risk of developing ARMD.

What else is contained in VitalEyes™ Complete?

Lutein and zeaxanthin are not the only nutrients shown to benefit the eye. While vitamin D is most famous for its role in calcium homeostasis, it also acts as a multifunctional hormone and is uniquely utilized in different tissue sites. In the eye, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to the development of many ocular pathologies. On the flip side, animal models have shown a protective effect of vitamin D supplementation against some ocular pathologies, and in vitro studies have shown vitamin D may have an anti-inflammatory effect in the eye [6]. It is important to note, however, that more studies will need to be conducted to explore its possible therapeutic potential.

As many people are not getting enough vitamin D from the sun due to lifestyle or living in colder, darker climates, supplementation has been shown to be a suitable replacement. VitalEyes™ contains the same type of vitamin D that the skin makes in response to sun exposure: cholecalciferol (vitamin D-3). It is more biologically available than supplementary vitamin D-2.

Both macular degeneration and cataracts have been suggested to be caused by free radical damage. Bilberry extract is a source of powerful antioxidants that may protect against or reverse some of that oxidative damage by free radicals. Research on the effects of bilberry extract may have begun due to anecdotal reports that during World War II, the British Royal Air Force fed bilberry jam to pilots, improving their night vision[7]. There appears to be some truth to these claims, as they have been supported by scientific investigation, showing that bilberry extract may not only support night vision but also improve vision in those who are nearsighted (myopic) [7,8].

The bilberry extract contained in Metabolic Maintenance’s VitalEyes™ formula has been standardized to 36% anthocyanosides. Anthocyanosides (also known as anthocyanins) are water-soluble pigments that give a purple color to many plants but are most highly concentrated in the bilberry, or Vaccinium myrtillus, a shrub of the Ericaceae family. It has been proposed that the antioxidant activity of anthocyanosides may slow retinal angiopathy that tends to occur with ARMD, as well as in diabetic retinopathy [8].

VitalEyes™ also contains lemon flavonoids. Flavonoids, like anthocyanosides, are plant pigments and antioxidants, but these, in particular, have been suggested to reduce the risk of forming cataracts, slow or prevent the development of glaucoma, and lessen vision loss from macular degeneration [9,10]. Both glaucoma and cataracts are physical conditions which can cause the loss of vision, and more often occur in older adults. Cataracts are gradual and painless and cause a cloudiness preventing light from entering properly. Glaucoma can be either quick and painful or slow and subtle. Pressure builds up in the eye causing damage to the optic nerve: the vital link between the eye and the brain for processing visual information. During the initial stages of glaucoma, changes occur within the collagen structure of the eye and the function of the eye’s blood vessels [9]. As flavonoids are known to promote healthy skin and blood vessels, including the delicate capillaries of the retina, it is hypothesized that these are the same mechanisms by which flavonoids may have a preventative effect against glaucoma [9].

Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10 or ubiquinone, is a mitochondrial coenzyme, essential for the production of ATP. The biochemical structure of CoQ10 makes it perfectly suited to transfer electrons for ATP production and to clean up free radicals, making it a powerful antioxidant. In terms of energy, CoQ10 is responsible for an incredible 95% of the body’s energy production [11]. As an antioxidant, CoQ10 may contribute to the retina’s ability to prevent or repair the free radical damage that can lead to ARMD. As we get older, CoQ10 production in our bodies slows down. Stress, poor eating habits, illness, and infection can also impede the body’s ability to produce CoQ10. Taking a supplement as you enter middle age can be highly effective in restoring and maintaining optimal amounts of CoQ10 for better cellular functioning.

But wait, there’s more!

Sure, the lutein and zeaxanthin macular carotenoids, the antioxidant vitamins C and E, zinc, carotenoids, bilberry extract, and vitamin D are all contained in optimal amounts to support your eyes and vision, however, VitalEyes™ supports more than just your ocular health. This multivitamin/multimineral is also a balanced supplement to holistically promote your general health.

VitalEyes™ contains a variety of antioxidants with varied contributions to healthy cellular function and repair. Nutrient antioxidant deficiency is one of the causes of numerous chronic and degenerative pathologies outside of macular degeneration [12]. Alpha-tocopherol, the most bioactive form of vitamin E, is a fat-soluble vitamin with high antioxidant potency. Due to its fat-solubility, α-tocopherol protects cell membranes from damage by free radicals and lipid peroxidation throughout the body [12]. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. It is essential for collagen, carnitine and neurotransmitter biosynthesis. Vitamin C works synergistically with vitamin E to quench free radicals and also regenerates the reduced form of vitamin E. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble member of the carotenoids that is converted to retinol, an essential nutrient for vision. It is also a strong antioxidant and is the best quencher of singlet oxygen [12].

Selenium (Se) is a trace mineral that forms the active site of several antioxidant enzymes and is a known immunomodulator, along with vitamins A and D. Selenium is also necessary for proper thyroid function [12]. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with osteoporotic bone loss, increased bone fractures, autoimmune disease, and neurodegenerative disorders, so if you are not getting enough sunlight to produce adequate vitamin D, a supplement is strongly encouraged [13].

The balance of B vitamins included in the formula assists in energy production and the efficiency of methylation reactions throughout the body. B vitamins, in general, are known as mood lifters and stress reducers. Thiamine, folate, and B-12 are all involved in neural development and neurotransmitter synthesis. B vitamins are also cofactors in the synthesis of thyroid, sex, and adrenal hormones. They assist in the detoxification processes that rid the body of energy-depleting substances and contribute to energy producing processes in the mitochondria of every cell in the body. All of these functions are closely connected to a healthy CNS, improved cognitive function, clearer thoughts, and a sense of well-being.

Because of its role in the mitochondria, CoQ10 also supports energy production on the cellular level and is relied upon most heavily in cells that require the greatest amount of energy to function, such as the heart, blood vessels, muscles, and kidneys [11].

Anthocyanosides and flavonoids have a variety of benefits in the body outside of the eye as well. Anthocyanosides have shown a strengthening effect on the walls of fragile capillaries and blood vessels while helping to maintain permeability [14,15]. Sustained intake of flavonoids has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and pro-immunity effects, relief for allergy sufferers, and has been associated with a reduced risk of gout, diabetes, stomach ulcers, and atherosclerosis [10].

Talk to your trusted healthcare provider and consider adding Metabolic Maintenance’s VitalEyes™ Complete Ocular Formula to your nutritional regimen and get up to your eyeballs in good health!


  1. Marse-Perlman, Julie A., et al. “Lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet and serum and their relation to age-related maculopathy in the third national health and nutrition examination survey.” American journal of epidemiology 153.5 (2001): 424-432.
  2. Clemons, T. E., et al. “Risk factors for the incidence of advanced age-related macular degeneration in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) AREDS report no. 19.” Ophthalmology 112.4 (2005): 533-539.
  3. Chew, Emily Y., et al. “The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2): study design and baseline characteristics (AREDS2 report number 1).” Ophthalmology 119.11 (2012): 2282-2289.
  4. Richer, Stuart, et al. “Double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of lutein and antioxidant supplementation in the intervention of atrophic age-related macular degeneration: the Veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial).” Optometry-Journal of the American Optometric Association 75.4 (2004): 216-229.
  5. Krinsky, Norman I., John T. Landrum, and Richard A. Bone. “Biologic mechanisms of the protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin in the eye.” Annual review of nutrition 23.1 (2003): 171-201.
  6. Reins, Rose Y., and Alison M. McDermott. “Vitamin D: implications for ocular disease and therapeutic potential.” Experimental eye research134 (2015):