Recent research into Vitamin D reported in Food Consumer, the Daily Mail, and the Daily Express, amongst many, shows a potentially interesting relationship between Vitamin D levels and eye health. The research funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have found that vitamin D reduces the effects of ageing in mouse eyes and improves the vision of older mice significantly.
The research was carried out by a team from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and is published in the current issue of the journal Neurobiology of Ageing.
Professor Glen Jeffery, who led the work, explains “In the back of the eyes of mammals, like mice and humans, is a layer of tissue called the retina. Cells in the retina detect light as it comes into the eyes and then send messages to the brain, which is how we see. This is a demanding job, and the retina actually requires proportionally more energy than any other tissue in the body, so it has to have a good supply of blood. However, with ageing the high energy demand produces debris and there is progressive inflammation even in normal animals. In humans this can result in a decline of up to 30% in the numbers of light receptive cells in the eye by the time we are 70 and so lead to poorer vision.”
The researchers found that when old mice were given vitamin D for just six weeks, inflammation was reduced, the debris partially removed, and tests showed that their vision was improved.
Professor Jeffery said “Researchers need to run full clinical trials in humans before we can say confidently that older people should start taking vitamin D supplements, but there is growing evidence that many of us in the Western world are deficient in vitamin D and this could be having significant health implications.”
Birdshot Uveitis Society is very interested to find out more about this piece of research, particularly as one or two of our members have told us that they believe that vitamin D may have helped their eye problems. We are contacting the researchers to find out more about this.
Four important points to note:
- At this stage there is only scientific evidence that the eye sight of the mouse improves. There have yet to be trials on humans.
- Too much Vitamin D can be harmful, so it needs to be monitored.
- We would never advocate that members add in extra supplements without first discussing with the specialists who treat them.
- Seemingly harmless supplements can put extra strain on your liver and kidneys or interact with your other medications