The purpose of this project was to review the effects of dietary supplements on degenerative ocular tissue changes. Early evidence established roles of dietary essential vitamins and minerals based on of gross deficiency symptoms which respond to supplementation. Ocular tissue changes resulting from specific vitamin or mineral deficiencies are numerous and include corneal neovascularization, opacification and ulceration, secretory cell production, blepharitis, papilledema, retinal edema, cataracts and night blindness. Recent research suggests uncontrolled oxidation reactions initiated by free radical formation may produce significant tissue damage including macular degeneration and cataract formation. The antioxidant activities of vitamins C and E, and the mineral zinc demonstrate interesting potential as dietary supplements for prevention and possible treatment of these conditions. In addition, b-carotene, taurine, glutathione, superoxide dismutase and a lesser known class of compounds known as flavinoids also show antioxidant activity and potential for dietary supplementation. Continued investigation is needed to prove the efficacy of each.
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