Zinc apart from providing an immune-supportive function is one of the minerals essential for eye health. The macula part of the eye, in particular, is rich in zinc. To begin with, zinc is crucial for retinal function. Zinc is important in protecting retinal health as it enhances the body’s ability to absorb vitamin A. Consequently, vitamin A helps maintain a healthy cornea. Notably, vitamin A is converted to retinal under the action of zinc. Rhodopsin is a type of protein that enables the eye to adapt to low light vision. Zinc is also involved in the formation of melanin by vitamin A, a pigment that protects our eyes. Additionally, zinc helps with hydration of the eye and plays a role in eye pressure regulation.
Zinc also functions as a coenzyme helping the various body enzymes minimize the number of free radicals. Therefore, zinc is essential for retinal health. Zinc also supports improved retinal function through the reduction of the levels of lipid oxidation and DNA damage. Additionally, zinc can control the intracellular levels of iron which promotes oxidation in high levels thus preventing the formation of damaging free radicals.
Zinc also works hand in hand with selenium to promote eye health. As such, combination of zinc and selenium or other potential antioxidants tends to be more efficacious against the more common causes of eye conditions.
Mild to moderate zinc deficiency is common in the United States, and a daily intake of about 25 mg is recommended. Despite its numerous beneficial effects on the eye, research by “Archives if Ophthalmology” showed that excessive zinc has a damaging impact on the eyes.