Retina Support: Cones & Rods

Rods & Cones   Treatment   Photoreceptors   Connective Tissue   Hole / Wrinkle in the macula   Sugar balance   Vitamin A

The rods (support low-light and peripheral vision) and cones (support fine detail and color) in the eye may be damaged by a number of inherited vision dystrophies.

& Supplements

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Advanced Eye & Vision Support (whole food) Formula 60 vcaps

Advanced Eye & Vision Support (whole food) Formula 60 vcapsAdvanced Eye & Vision Support (whole food) Formula 60 vcaps
Whole food, wild crafted herbal vegetarian formula with vision antioxidants, chemical- and preservative-free.
Viteyes CompleteViteyes Complete
Multivitamin & eye multivitamin
Microcurrent Stimulation 100ile Purchase OptionMicrocurrent Stimulation 100ile Purchase Option
Helps improve circulation & reduce waste build-up.
Krill Oil, 1000mg 60 softgelsKrill Oil, 1000mg 60 softgels
Supplies omega-3, EPA, DHA, Vitamin A
Very Important
Maxivision Meso Plus Formula with Lutein and Zeaxanthin  90 vcapsMaxivision Meso Plus Formula with Lutein and Zeaxanthin 90 vcaps
Meso-zexanthin 10mg with lutein 10mg and zeaxanthin 2mg now in a vegan friendly capsule (replaces MacuHealth - savings of $10)
Very Important
Dr. Grossman’s Bilberry/Ginkgo Combination 2oz (60ml)Dr. Grossman’s Bilberry/Ginkgo Combination 2oz (60ml)
Bilberry/Ginkgo Wild crafted extract formula
Very Important
CoQ10 100 mg 60 gelsCoQ10 100 mg 60 gels
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) (ubiquinone 10) 100 mg per gelcap.
Pure Focus

If genetic weakness is apparent at birth the tendency is that deterioration remains somewhat stable. If genetic weakness in the cones or rods appears later in life it is often a progressive deterioration, worsening with age.

Conventional Treatment

There are not any conventional ways to slow down or reverse degredation of rods or cones due to genetic mutations that have appeared at birth, nor any method for slowing development in progressive dystrophies. Doctors do sometimes recommend tinted eyeglasses and sunglasses as well as magnification tools. Gene therapy and stem cell therapy does hold some promise for the future. A study in 2012 replaced damaged lab animals' photoreceptor cells with transplants of precursor rod cells which then developed to a new layer of rods and cones. 1


Even when genetic disorders manifest as vision problems the body's innate inteligence attempts to create normalcy. There has been a wide range of research about the helpfulness of certain nutrients in maintaining photoreceptor health - and which may help to protect the rods and cones from progressive damage. These nutrients have been found to benefit other conditions of photoreceptor cells and the retina and may be helpful in supporting cone and rod health.

  • Nutritional support
    • Lutein is an important carotenoid antioxidant which supports vision acuity, as demonstrated in retinitis pigmentosa studies.2
    • Zeaxanthin, another carotenoid antioxidant, helps protect the rods and cones from the damaging photo-oxidation of blue and UV light.3
    • Taurine supports the health of the retinal ganglion cells, which are nerve cells (some of which are photosensitive) transmitting information from the rods and cones to the optic nerve.4
    • Vitamin A Palmitate, taken along with Lutein, has been linked to health of the mid-peripheral vision in one study.5 If large doses of vitamin A are taken they should be supplemented with tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDA) a bile salt that helps with absorption and avoiding bile acid backup in the liver. Note that research suggests that for recessive rod cone dystrophy which is associated with a mutated ABCA4 gene, (similar to a form of recessive Stargardts), it may be that vitamin A is contra-indicated.11
    • Bilberry extracts also provide important antioxidant properties that protect against photooxidation that damages the rods and cones. Bilberry also is known to support night vision, a function of retinal rod cells.
    • Vitamin C supports the health of the nerve cells that transmit information from rods and cones to the brain.6, 7
    • Omega-3 fatty acids support the general health of the retina and photoreceptors cells, and have been found to be helpful in a variety of photoreceptor conditions, especially when combined with vitamin A.8
  • Other drugs - Do not take impotence drugs such as Viagra. Viagra blocks formation of an enzyme that transmits light signals from the retina to the brain. Doctors have known for several years that it could cause temporary vision problems in healthy men, but a 2014 Australian study found its effects can be permanent.9 See more information about other possible harmful drugs.
  • Acupuncture A specific acupuncture protocol developed for retinitis pigmentosa may be helpful in supporting rod and cone health.10.
  • Microcurrent stimulation Some research indicates that daily use of microcurrent stimulation may help preserve vision as well.
  • General vision support See our recommendations for healthy eyes.

Related Conditions

Other eye conditions where the rod and cone photoreceptor cells are negatively affected include: Leber's Amaurosis, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Usher Syndrome, and Batten's Disease.


1. Singh, et al, Reversal of end-stage retinal degeneration and restoration of visual function by photoreceptor transplantation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January, 2013.
2. Bahrami H, et al. Lutein supplementation in retinitis pigmentosa: PC-based vision assessment in a randomized double-masked placebo-controlled clinical trial, BMC Ophthalmology, June 2006.
3. S.R. Kim, Photooxidation of A2-PE, a photoreceptor outer segment fluorophore, and protection by lutein and zeaxanthin, Experimental Eye Research, May, 2006
4. Froger N, Cadetti L, Lorach H, et al. Taurine provides neuroprotection against retinal ganglion cell degeneration. PLoS One, July, 2012
5. E.L. Berson, et al., Clinical Trial of Lutein in Patients With Retinitis Pigmentosa Receiving Vitamin A, Archives of Ophthalmology, 2010
6. C. I. Calero, et al., Allosteric Modulation of Retinal GABA Receptors by Ascorbic Acid, Journal of Neuroscience, 2011
7. Komeima K, et al. Antioxidants reduce cone cell death in a model of retinitis pigmentosa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, July, 2006
8. E.L. Berson, et al., Further evaluation of docosahexaenoic acid in patients with retinitis pigmentosa receiving vitamin A treatment: subgroup analyses, Archives of Ophthalmology, September, 2004.
9. L. Nivison-Smith, et al., Sildenafil alters retinal function in mouse carriers of retinitis pigmentosa, Experimental Eye Research, November, 2014.
10. Ava K. Bittner, OD, PhD, Jeffrey M. Gould, MEd LAc, Andy Rosenfarb, ND LAc, et al., A pilot study of an acupuncture protocol to improve visual function in retinitis pigmentosa patients, Clinical and Experimental Optometry, May, 2014
11. R.A. Radu, et al, Accelerated accumulation of lipofuscin pigments in the RPE of a mouse model for ABCA4-mediated retinal dystrophies following Vitamin A supplementation, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, September, 2008.

Rods & Cones   Treatment   Photoreceptors   Connective Tissue   Hole / Wrinkle in the macula   Sugar balance   Vitamin A