Nootropics, also known as smart drugs, contain compounds that may improve brain function such as memory, focus, cognition, and mood. Additionally, some studies have shown that nootropics can also improve vision. Recently, there has been increased hype about nootropics with the ability to improve vision, dubbed vision-centric nootropics.
Some of the properties and benefits of these particular nootropics are highlighted below.
How Nootropics Enhance Vision
There are several theories that show how nootropics affect visual perception as well as many theories about the vision enhancement capabilities of nootropics. One plausible explanation is that since nootropics affect mental clarity, they consequently improve the ability to process visual stimuli and therefore improve vision.1
This means that people who take vision-centric nootropics can process visual cues qualitatively and have a better perception of objects with finer details. On the other hand, another explanation for the improved eyesight is that nootropics potentially promote blood flow to the optic nerves, thus improving visual perception.
Top Nootropics for Visual Enhancement
Before knowing what the best vision-centric nootropics are, it’s important to understand how the eyes work and how nootropics play this vital role.
The eyes collect light rays or photons through the cornea, where it passes through the iris and continue on to the gel-like substance called the retina where photoreceptors convert light into electrical signals.
While one might think that there is no need for nootropics for the eyes, it’s important to note that the photoreceptors are made up of opsin and retinal. Retinal, to be exact, comes from carotenoids such as beta-carotene in the diet.2
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Therefore, supplementing your eyes with vision-centric nootropics is critical for the photoreceptors to function properly. Some of the best nootropics for enhancing vision are highlighted below.
Ashwagandha can help the body adapt to stress and has been known to help regenerate the axons and dendrites to restore neural networks.
Part of the ampakine family, noopept is known to improve mood and promote learning, as well as logical thinking. It has also been extensively studied for its vision-enhancing properties. In fact, those who use this nootropic report seeing colors more brightly and seeing more vividly.
Piracetam, the first nootropic drug developed during the early 1960s has also been found to improve vision. It works by boosting mental clarity, thereby affecting the visual faculties.
Another type of racetam, this nootropic drug changes the visual perception and creates the feeling that an individual has high-definition (HD) vision.
European Black Currant
Black currants contain 25 percent anthocyanins. It also contains a black pigment called cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G) that helps regenerate rhodopsin in the eyes. This allows for quicker vision recovery when going from a light to a dark place and vice versa.3
Bilberry is another rich source of anthocyanins that can help maintain good eye health by preventing the onset of diseases such as cataracts, retinopathy, and macular degeneration. It can also help improve night vision by boosting the blood flow within the capillary of the retina.4
Studies on saffron noted that it has the ability to improve light sensitivity and vision sharpness. It also reduces the damage to the photoreceptor cells.
It also contains the compound crocin, which is a type of carotene that helps protect the eyes against ultraviolet light radiation. Moreover, it can also improve the blood flow in the retina and contains antioxidants that can scavenge for free radicals to protect the eyes against inflammatory cytokines.
Astaxanthin comes from the extract of the algae Haematococcus pluvialis. It is a natural xanthophyll that is also found in shellfish, crustaceans, and pink flamingos. In fact, it is what gives these creatures their pink color.
Studies show that it is an efficient scavenger of free radicals. It also crosses the blood-brain barrier, thus it can work effectively as an antioxidant. Supplementing with astaxanthin reduces eye fatigue, especially among those who stare at screens all day long.5
A relatively new nootropic, lutein has been used to promote good vision but it has also been shown to boost cognitive performance.6 In the journal International Neuropsychology Society, lutein was found to increase neural efficiency, executive function, and composite memory. In terms of vision, it has been known to reduce oxidative stress in the cells around the eyes, particularly the compound zeaxanthin.
In addition to lutein, intake of the carotenoid complex (beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene) may help improve eyesight.
Like any scientific discoveries, more studies are required to gauge the full effects of nootropics on eyesight. However, preliminary studies are promising and incorporating some natural nootropics into your daily routine could be a good potential option if you’re looking to improve or enhance your eyesight.
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