Ocular Nutrition is a dietary supplement first endorsed by radio commentator Paul Harvey in the late 1980s. Manufactured by Hi-Health, the supplement contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, herbs and phytochemical compounds that are purported to support eye health. While some research shows that these nutrients may be beneficial for your eyes, critics differ on who they can help, which and how much you should take, and whether or not Ocular Nutrition is a good choice at all. Talk to your doctor before taking any type of dietary supplement.
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Each 4-capsule dose of Ocular Nutrition contains over 100 percent of an adult man or woman's daily value for riboflavin, vitamin E, vitamin A, chromium, selenium, zinc and vitamin C, according to Hi-Health. Each dose also provides a high level of copper and calcium. Other ingredients include antioxidants and amino acids, such as L-taurine, citrus bioflavonoids, quercetin and rutin, as well as a patented lutein complex made up of lutein, zeaxanthin, bilberry extract, eyebright and L-glutathione.
On its main website, Hi-Health contends that, if taken regularly, Ocular Nutrition can delay the onset of age-related eye diseases, particularly age-related macular degeneration, which is characterized by the gradual breakdown of the part of the retina called the macula. Left unchecked, AMD can cause vision loss. Hi-Health states that the antioxidants in Ocular Nutrition will prevent this damage. The National Eye Institute confirms that supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, copper and beta-carotene, or a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin may help people with late AMD, but the institute does not endorse Ocular Nutrition.
In 2005, Hi-Health paid $450,000 to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges that the company was making unsubstantiated claims about Ocular Nutrition's effectiveness in its advertisements, including advertisements aired on Paul Harvey's radio show. The ads stated that Ocular Nutrition could help people with AMD regain lost vision, reverse cataract development and get rid of moving specks, commonly referred to as floaters. The FTC required Hi-Health to remove these claims from its ads since none were based on scientific evidence.
If you are diagnosed with intermediate or late AMD, supplementing with some of the compounds contained in Ocular Nutrition may slow the progression of your condition, according to the National Eye Institute. However, Dr. Paul Bernstein, a specialist at the University of Utah's Moran Eye Center, notes that other components of the supplement -- eyebright and bilberry, for example -- have not been tested thoroughly and cannot be recommended. Ocular Nutrition is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is also not verified for purity and potency by the U.S. Pharmacopeia, a nonprofit organization recommended by ConsumerReports.org.