Vitamin E just like vitamin C exists in the lens of the eye. As such, it is essential in maintaining eye health. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that is chemically identified as alpha-tocopherol, its most active form. It is obtained naturally in the diet from foods such as almonds, raw seeds, kale, turnip, and mustard among others. It can also be obtained as chemically processed supplements. It is recommended that the daily intake of the vitamin be 1mg. After ingestion vitamin E is metabolized in the liver and stored in fat cells.
The vitamin has very potent anti-oxidant properties that reverse the damage caused by free radicals that get into the eye and even from the ultra-violet irradiation of the sun. It also stops the production of free radicals within retinal cells, which slows down any degenerative changes that may be taking place. It is also involved in immune function and therefore helps to protect the eye.
Vitamin E further stops the action of protein kinase C that is involved in cell multiplication and specialization. As a result, it ensures that there is controlled growth of cells within the eye for optimal functioning. Within blood vessels and capillaries in the eye, the vitamin coats the endothelial cells that line inner surfaces and ensure that there are no foreign substances such as cholesterol adhering to the endothelium. It also promotes the production of enzymes that inhibit the metabolism of arachidonic acid causing the production of prostacyclin from the endothelium and sequentially dilating vessels, which ensures that retinal cells are well vascularized and nourished.
According to the American Optometric Association, vitamin E has a crucial function in reducing the incidence of development of the vessel-related complications of systemic conditions and electrolyte abnormalities, by inhibiting protein kinase C.