What’s the biggest health fear facing Americans today? According to a survey done by the American Foundation for the Blind, most Americans fear loss of vision even above the fear of getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes, HIV or any other life-threatening health problem. The national poll revealed that age-related blindness or low vision is the topmost fear because it incapacitates people from living a normal life and increases dependency levels.
Apparently, this fear is real and is the major factor driving the growth of the vision health supplement industry. Over the years, the sale of vision health supplements has grown dramatically, largely supported by America’s teeming population of senior citizens.
A report in the November 2009 issue of U.S. Eye Health Ingredients, interest in vision health nutritional supplements is backed by America’s rapidly rising aging population. Americans over 65 are particularly affected by common eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy Statistics from the Administration of Aging show that by the year 2030, 20 percent of the American population, will be over 62. Next year the oldest baby boomers will turn 65. This is indeed, a brimming consumer market for vision health supplement manufacturers.
Nutritional Supplements – an Increasingly Popular Consumer Option
The importance of supplements has been gaining unprecedented interest since 1994 when the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act (DHEA) allowed nutritional supplement labels to describe specific health benefits to ingredients in nutritional products. Since then, the industry has been providing targeted nutrients which address key health conditions meeting the needs of a wide body of consumers looking for natural solutions.
The recent regulations to the dietary supplement industry have served to re-enforce high quality standards and thus boost the respectable image of nutritional supplements. Consumer usage of nutritional supplements is expected to rise as research widens and validates the efficacy of certain nutrients and herbs for specific health conditions.
Nutrients and Herbs Addressing Vision Health
Various herbs, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients have been intensively researched for their role in supporting vision health, especially age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract, night blindness and low vision. Herbs and nutrients have also been identified to address issues such as dry eyes and eye fatigue. Eye fatigue is often caused by modern living which involves long hours in front of visual display terminals.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), vital nutrients essential for supporting vision health are lutein, zeaxanthin, essential fatty acids, zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Other important nutrients and herbs include Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, selenium, copper, N-Acetyl Cysteine, astaxanthin bilberry extract, eyebright and lycopene.
According to Frost & Sullivan, opportunities in the American market are open for eye health nutrients such as zeaxanthin, bilberry extracts, lutein, beta-carotene and astaxanthin. Analysts predict the nutrient, lutein, to grow at a volume of 6 per cent. Zeaxanthin is predicted to have a 9 percent growth rate.
Vision health supplements can be manufactured in various delivery forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, liquids, powders and also include homeopathic eye drops.
Vision Health Supplements – Growing Market
According to Functional Ingredients, the US eye health ingredients market was worth $138 million n 2008, and is predicted to grow annually at the rate of 5 percent. The CAGR from 2008 to 2015 is forecast at 5.3 percent.
The National Eye Institute estimates that there are 3.3 million Americans who are 40 years or older suffering from low vision or blindness. These numbers are expected to increase to 5.5 million in 2020 as more baby boomers reach the ranks of senior citizenship.
Nutritional supplements are fasting gaining consumer trust. Combined with the expanding population of aging baby boomers the nutritional vision health market is certainly at the threshold of burgeoning expansion and growth.