I have glaucoma and am wondering whether so-called eye vitamins could improve my vision or protect me from further vision loss?

Answers from Dennis Robertson, M.D.

Probably not. A number of different dietary supplements are marketed for eye health. However, there is little evidence that any of these products — often marketed as eye vitamins — can prevent glaucoma or reverse vision loss due to glaucoma.

Few clinical trials of eye vitamins or supplements for glaucoma have been conducted. None has been rigorous enough or large enough to conclude a benefit in managing or treating glaucoma.

However, taking a high-dose formulation of antioxidant vitamins and zinc may reduce the progression of dry macular degeneration — another eye disease. According to research by the National Eye Institute, formulations of vitamins C and E, beta carotene, zinc, and copper may reduce the risk of vision loss in people with intermediate macular degeneration. If you have advanced-stage macular degeneration in one eye, this combination of vitamins may reduce the risk that you'll develop vision loss in your other eye.

If you're interested in trying eye vitamins or supplements, discuss the benefits and risks with your eye doctor.

Feb. 18, 2012