There is a popular saying that “the eyes are the light of the body”. It is therefore important to take care of your eyes. Vision is as important as life itself because we can make out shapes, learn new concepts and appreciate the beauty of life through sight. A larger percentage of our sensory perception is dedicated to eyesight, about 80% according to experts. Research has shown that the eyes are the most studied sensory organs. The eyes are also the most developed sensory organs and a larger part of the brain works in close proximity with the eyes. It is therefore important to take care of them as best as you can.
Eyesight begins to deteriorate with age, but biological and environmental factors can also affect eyesight. However, poor eyesight can be corrected through medication, surgery, exercise, rest, nutrition, etc. But another way that is gaining attention through which eyesight can be corrected is with the use of nootropics. Nootropics are drugs (or organic substances) that are used to enhance a particular function in the body or mind, ranging from cognitive abilities, memory, and concentration, and now, eyesight.
Nootropic supplements have been shown to increase blood flow, decrease free radicals, improve the optic nerve and improve visual processing
How nootropics can enhance vision
Eye health is much related to brain health, so taking good care of your eyesight directly translates to a positive effect on your brain. This is why using nootropics to enhance vision might just be a good idea. But how do these nootropics work in a way that improves vision? The answer lies in the following;
As a nutritional supplement
Nutrition is important to maintaining a good eyesight. This is because certain vitamins and nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Zinc improve eye health greatly. Fatty acids such as Omega-3 fatty acids, Gamma-linolenic acid. There is also research to show that nutrients are extremely valuable to eye health. If you have a hectic work schedule, it can be hard to keep up with balanced meals throughout every point of the day. Having irregular mealtimes with insufficient nutrients for a long period of time can adversely affect your eyesight. A good way to ensure that you remain healthy is by taking nutritional supplements frequently.
There are free radicals in the body caused by the process of metabolism through oxidation. Free radicals also get into the body as a result of exposure to toxins. When theses free radicals remain in the body, they can cause damage to the body. Cataracts are formed when the lens of the eye begins to cloud. Cataracts are believed to be the most common form of vision loss. It could be caused by ageing, genetics, and trauma or as a secondary effect of diseases (e.g. cataract due to diabetes).
Research has shown that cataracts can also be caused by the presence of free radicals in the body. Another eye disease that can be caused by the damaging effects of free radicals is macular degeneration of the eye (especially age-related macular degeneration). Free radicals are removed from the body by the action of antioxidants. Antioxidants either bind to free radicals to stabilize them, or neutralize these radicals. Many vitamins act as antioxidants. A good example is B-Vitamins. Nootropics can act as antioxidants (in the from of B-Vitamins) to prevent free radical damage in the body, which will further help prevent loss of vision.
Regulation of amino acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins are important in maintaining a healthy immune system, repairing damaged tissues, building bones, blood, skin, muscles etc. However, high amounts of amino acids within the body can also cause damage to the body. An example is the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine in the body can cause certain heart diseases, as well as damage to nerves. This can also lead to loss of vision. Homocysteine has been implicated in eye diseases such as Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Glaucoma. AMD is caused by ageing, where the macula of the eye begins to reduce in thickness till central vision is lost.
Sometimes, AMD is caused when fluids enter the retina and caused trauma to the macula, resulting in a loss of vision. Glaucoma, on the other hand, is caused by undue pressure to the optic nerve which could also lead to a loss of vision. All of these are caused by high levels of homocysteine in the body. This can be regulated by B-Vitamins, especially B6 and B9. Research shows that these vitamins and folate effectively reduce plasma homocysteine. B-Vitamins are also classified as nootropics, and they can effectively enhance vision by reducing homocysteine.
Nootropics generally enhance vision in two general ways; by repairing damaged nerves in the brain that can affect vision and by preventing loss of vision due to metabolic causes. Nootropics also enhance mental clarity, which could further help improve eyesight.
Are nootropics effective at improving eyesight?
Nootropics are quite effective at improving eyesight due to their action on the brain. The eye is directly connected to the brain through the optic nerve. Damage to the brain can result in an impairment in the visual mechanism of the brain, as well as eye movements. The optic nerve of the brain sends signals directly to the visual center of the brain located in the occipital lobe. When the eye sees an object, the image is focused on the retina. The retina then sends signals through the optic nerve to the neurons located in the occipital lobe of the brain. This is how you recognize an object that you see.
However, if there is a damage to the neurons of the occipital lobe, there will be a disconnection between the information getting to the brain and thus, vision will be impaired. Studies show that occasionally, this damage to nerves and neurons of the brain-eye pathway can lead to a loss of function of eye muscles. This will most likely make the eye go limp, leading to blindness. To analyze the effectiveness of nootropics in improving eyesight, evidence will be needed.
Research has been conducted using certain nootropics, especially Vitamin C to determine improvement (and its extent) on eyesight. This research was conducted on elderly people for a period of 6 months. These participants all had problems with their vision. The research showed that after 6 months, there was a significant reduction in the rate of deterioration of vision of the participants, up to 12% using treatment with Vitamin C as a nootropic. This was evident in the improvement of distant vision of these participants. It was postulated that this improvement in vision was because of 3 basic reasons; a reduction in oxidative stress, an improved microvascular health, and optimal control of blood sugar.
Oxidative stress is caused when there is an abundance of free radicals due to oxidants, and a low amount of antioxidants in the body. These free radicals can cause fast ageing of optical muscles as well as damage to the optic nerve leading to loss of vision. Vitamin C ensures that this oxidative stress is greatly reduced. The eye is abundant with blood vessels and capillaries. These vessels supply blood to the eyes, ensuring that the eyes remain healthy enough to carry out its basic function of sight.
However, damage to these vessels can cause blood and fluids to leak into the eye, which can cause damage to the macula of the eye. Again, loss of vision especially in the elderly, may become inevitable- a condition known as Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Vitamin C ensures that the blood vessels of the eye remain strong and in good health.
Blood sugar is used for energy, and as fuel for cell synthesis, but the amounts of blood sugar in the body should be regulated, as high amounts lead to diabetes. Diabetes is a major cause of macular degeneration, which can also lead to blurry vision and in extreme cases, loss of sight. Vitamin C helps to regulate the amount of blood sugar in the body.
Nootropics are therefore effective in improving eyesight, even though their effectiveness becomes evident with constant use. This use should be medically prescribed, however, to avoid drug dependency and side effects caused by overuse of nootropics.
Why do nootropics help with vision?
Nootropics help visual processing by ensuring that the brain and its neural connections are working at an optimal level. When your focus is clear and your attention is sharper, you tend to see things more clearly. Nootropics help to improve focus and concentration by the action of their compounds. These compounds either produce hormones that positively influence mood and attention, or reduce hormones that affect our attention and memory span. A poor sense of vision is sometimes caused by a poor ability to focus and process what is being seen, nootropics are an advantage.
Research has shown that certain nootropics improve cognitive abilities, which can allow for improvement of sight and visual processing. It is very possible that your eyesight rapidly improves when you take nootropics.
Another way nootropics help vision is by strengthening photoreceptors. Light rays play an important role in sight as it is quite strenuous to see in the dark. This is because the cornea of the eye collects light rays through the iris to the retina. The photoreceptors on the retina become stimulated by light, sending electric signals through the optic nerve to the brain to help vision. These photoreceptors are made of opsin and retinal, which are usually supplied by carotenoids (and vitamins) in our food. Vitamins therefore help to ensure that photoreceptors in the eye function optimally. These vitamins can also be consumed as nutritional supplements in form of nootropics as well.
Helping visual processing
Nootropics help vision through improved information processing in the brain. A major way in which the brain works to help us see is through information processing. This includes the ability to recognize objects, words, graphics, etc. This is called visual cognition and it is the ability that helps us read and learn. Another way the brain helps in processing information is through memory, storage and retrieval of visual information. The brain helps you store an image you see after recording it (an ability called visual scanning) and shifts attention to another object when needed.
After storing the information, if you see the same image (or something similar), your eyes send a signal to the brain to help you recall the information attached to the image that has been stored. This is why you can remember some of your childhood memories just by looking at something. Many nootropics help vision by helping the brain process information faster. This also helps vision because the brain and the eye work together in close proximity. So, an improvement in cognition leads to an improvement in vision and vice versa.
Another way nootropics help visual processing is by improving blood flow to the eyes. Nootropics do this by strengthening blood vessels and also increasing blood flow, especially to the optic nerves. This strengthens the optic nerve and thus “supercharges” your eye function.
One other function of Nootropics is their ability to improve general body performance, in a manner called biohacking. Biohacking is a process by which you improve your body’s biological functions to a certain level. This confers certain advantages on your body and its performance. Nootropics perform biohacking on your brain power, and even your eyes by supplying large amounts of nutrients to the brain and eyes. This dual function helps improve visual processing as well.
Which nootropics can help vision?
With all that has been said above, I am sure you are interested in knowing the kinds of nootropics can improve vision. Nootropics that help with vision include;
Rhodiola rosea is a naturally occurring nootropic that helps increase cognition and physical performance. It is important in regulating the activity of hormones like dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline, which are hormones that regulate mood and cognition. Rhodiola also reduces the amount of cortisol in the body, a chemical that produces stress. Rhodiola improves attention span, and also has antioxidant properties which help prevent free radicals that can cause loss of vision.
This is another nootropic that is used in alternative medicine for improvement of cognition. Bacopa ensures that the brain cells are protected from free radicals and other toxins in the body that can affect it. Bacopa also helps fight inflammation which can lead to neural degeneration. This nootropic helps neutralise harmful chemicals and free radicals that impede memory function in the brain. Safe to say, Bacopa helps to ensure that your brain works at an optimal level, which is very important in maintaining good eyesight. Research also shows that Bacopa can help the brain process visual information faster, which also improves eyesight.
Whenever nootropics are mentioned especially for improvement of eyesight, B-vitamins are a ready choice. Vitamin B6 is of value due to its usefulness in ensuring that your cardiovascular health remains optimal. Vitamin B6 also helps the brain work by improving attention span and emotional health. Vitamin B6 acts as a hormone regulator, ensuring the production of mentally beneficial hormones like dopamine. Combining this vitamin with its other B-vitamin counterparts (Vitamins B9 and B12) will ensure that the brain is not only taken care of but it helps prevent eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration.
This is a synthesized nootropic made from choline. This nootropic drug helps in the formation of new cells in the body as well as repair of damaged tissue. This is why citicoline can ensure your eyesight remains excellent. Citicoline helps to repair cells of the retina. Research also shows that citicoline can positively affect the optic nerve of the eye and improve visual clarity in certain patients with glaucoma.
Maritime Pine Bark Extracts
This is a naturally occurring nootropic substance that can be found in the bark of French maritime pines. The major usefulness of this nootropic is that it acts as an antioxidant and prevents free radical damage to the body. It also improves immunity and ensures that blood sugar levels do not rise unexpectedly. Studies show that maritime pines bark extracts can improve night vision and prevent a buildup of pressure on the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss. Combining this nootropic with bilberries can significantly improve night vision and prevent glaucoma.
Vitamins B9 and B12
This remarkable group of B-vitamins not only help eyesight improve, but they help in the synthesis of new cells. For example, Vitamin B9 improves mental health and prevents high levels of homocysteine in the blood. This helps to prevent certain eye diseases, e.g. glaucoma. In fact, studies show that this nootropic can prevent age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin B12 has similar effects on the eyes. It protects neurons, especially in the brain in such a way that mental performance is not affected. A specific advantage of vitamin B12 is its use in curing and improving cataracts. Research shows that vitamin B12 can be used in the treatment and prevention of cortical cataracts. Vitamin B12 also helps in preventing age-related macular degeneration as well.
It is important to note that as beneficial as these nootropics are in improving eyesight, they should not be used without medical advice especially if you are already on prescription. Many organic nootropics are also sold as nutritional supplements, and their instructions of use must also be adhered to. This is important to avoid triggering the side effects of nootropics due to dependency, addiction, drug overuse and drug abuse. Apart from this reason, you might really want to try using nootropics as an enhancer for improving your eyesight.