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Nutrition For Healthy Eyes

Research sug­gests that antiox­i­dants and oth­er impor­tant nutri­ents may reduce your risk of cataracts and mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion. Spe­cif­ic antiox­i­dants can have addi­tion­al ben­e­fits as well; for exam­ple, vit­a­min A pro­tects against blind­ness, and vit­a­min C may play a role in pre­vent­ing or alle­vi­at­ing glau­co­ma.

Omega-3 essen­tial fat­ty acids appear to help the eye in a vari­ety of ways, from alle­vi­at­ing symp­toms of dry eye syn­drome to guard­ing against mac­u­lar dam­age.

Eye Benefits Of Vitamins And Micronutrients

The fol­low­ing vit­a­mins, min­er­als and oth­er nutri­ents have been shown to be essen­tial for good vision and may pro­tect your eyes from sight-rob­bing con­di­tions and dis­eases.

Incor­po­rat­ing the fol­low­ing foods in your diet will help you get the Rec­om­mend­ed Dietary Allowance (RDA) of these impor­tant eye nutri­ents. Estab­lished by the Insti­tute of Med­i­cine (Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences), the RDA is the aver­age dai­ly dietary intake lev­el of a nutri­ent suf­fi­cient to meet the require­ments of near­ly all healthy indi­vid­u­als in a spe­cif­ic life stage and gen­der group.

While the RDA is a use­ful ref­er­ence, some eye care prac­ti­tion­ers rec­om­mend high­er dai­ly intakes of cer­tain nutri­ents for peo­ple at risk for eye prob­lems.

(In the fol­low­ing list, mg = mil­ligram; mcg = micro­gram (1/1000 of a mg) and IU = Inter­na­tion­al Unit.)


  • Eye ben­e­fits of beta-carotene: When tak­en in com­bi­na­tion with zinc and vit­a­mins C and E, beta-carotene may reduce the pro­gres­sion of mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion.
  • Food sources: Car­rots, sweet pota­toes, spinach, kale, but­ter­nut squash.
  • RDA: None (most sup­ple­ments con­tain 5,000 to 25,000 IU).

Bioflavonoids (Flavonoids)

  • Eye ben­e­fits of bioflavonoids: May pro­tect against cataracts and mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion.
  • Food sources: Tea, red wine, cit­rus fruits, bil­ber­ries, blue­ber­ries, cher­ries, legumes, soy prod­ucts.
  • RDA: None.

Lutein and Zeax­an­thin

  • Eye ben­e­fits of lutein and zeax­an­thin: May pre­vent cataracts and mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion.
  • Food sources: Spinach, kale, turnip greens, col­lard greens, squash.
  • RDA: None.

Omega-3 Fat­ty Acids

  • Eye ben­e­fits of omega-3 fat­ty acids: May help pre­vent mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion (AMD) and dry eyes.
  • Food sources: Cold-water fish such as salmon, mack­er­el and her­ring; fish oil sup­ple­ments, fresh­ly ground flaxseeds, wal­nuts.
  • RDA: None; but for car­dio­vas­cu­lar ben­e­fits, the Amer­i­can Heart Asso­ci­a­tion rec­om­mends approx­i­mate­ly 1,000 mg dai­ly.


  • Eye ben­e­fits of sele­ni­um: When com­bined with carotenoids and vit­a­mins C and E, may reduce risk of advanced AMD.
  • Food sources: Seafood (shrimp, crab, salmon, hal­ibut), Brazil nuts, enriched noo­dles, brown rice.
  • RDA: 55 mcg for teens and adults (60 mcg for women dur­ing preg­nan­cy and 70 mcg when breast-feed­ing).

Vit­a­min A

  • Eye ben­e­fits of vit­a­min A: May pro­tect against night blind­ness and dry eyes.
  • Food sources: Beef or chick­en liv­er; eggs, but­ter, milk.
  • RDA: 3,000 IU for men; 2,333 IU for women (2,567 IU dur­ing preg­nan­cy and 4,333 IU when breast-feed­ing).

Vit­a­min C

  • Eye ben­e­fits of vit­a­min C: May reduce the risk of cataracts and mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion.
  • Food sources: Sweet pep­pers (red or green), kale, straw­ber­ries, broc­coli, oranges, can­taloupe.
  • RDA: 90 mg for men; 70 mg for women (85 mg dur­ing preg­nan­cy and 120 mg when breast-feed­ing).

Vit­a­min D

  • Eye ben­e­fits of vit­a­min D: May reduce the risk of mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion.
  • Food sources: Salmon, sar­dines, mack­er­el, milk; orange juice for­ti­fied with vit­a­min D.
  • RDA: None, but the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Pedi­atrics rec­om­mends 400 IU per day for infants, chil­dren and ado­les­cents, and many experts rec­om­mend high­er dai­ly intakes for adults.
  • The best source of vit­a­min D is expo­sure to sun­light. Ultra­vi­o­let radi­a­tion from the sun stim­u­lates pro­duc­tion of vit­a­min D in human skin, and just a few min­utes of expo­sure to sun­light each day (with­out sun­screen) will insure your body is pro­duc­ing ade­quate amounts of vit­a­min D.

Vit­a­min E

  • Eye ben­e­fits of vit­a­min E: When com­bined with carotenoids and vit­a­min C, may reduce the risk of advanced AMD.
  • Food sources: Almonds, sun­flower seeds, hazel­nuts.
  • RDA: 15 mg for teens and adults (15 mg for women dur­ing preg­nan­cy and 19 mg when breast-feed­ing).


  • Eye ben­e­fits of zinc: Helps vit­a­min A reduce the risk of night blind­ness; may play a role in reduc­ing risk of advanced AMD.
  • Food sources: Oys­ters, beef, Dun­ge­ness crab, turkey (dark meat).
  • RDA: 11 mg for men; 8 mg for women (11 mg dur­ing preg­nan­cy and 12 mg when breast-feed­ing).

In gen­er­al, it’s best to obtain most nutri­ents through a healthy diet, includ­ing at least two serv­ings of fish per week and plen­ty of col­or­ful fruits and veg­eta­bles.

If you plan to begin a reg­i­men of eye vit­a­mins, be sure to dis­cuss this with your optometrist or oph­thal­mol­o­gist. Tak­ing too much of cer­tain vision sup­ple­ments can cause prob­lems, espe­cial­ly if you are tak­ing pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions for health prob­lems.

Bon appétit!


July 1st, 2017|Comments Off on Nutrition For Healthy Eyes

About the Author:

Born in Connecticut and raised in Upstate New York , Dr. Stetson graduated Cum Laude from Colgate University in New York, and then earned an MD degree with honors at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He distinguished himself again in residency at the Albany Medical Center, where he obtained the highest percentile in the Ophthalmology Knowledge Assessment Examinations. Dr. Stetson has performed more than 50,000 refractive surgeries and has been on staff at Diamond Vision since 2004, before becoming Medical Director in 2006.


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