If you’re wondering how to improve your eye health, you might want to start with your diet. These are some of the best vitamins for eye health.
The food you eat is fuel for your body, including your eyes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AOA), a nutrient-rich diet may reduce the risk of certain eye health issues—particularly those that appear later in life, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Here are the most important vitamins for eye health, along with tips for getting more of these vitamins in your diet.
Vitamin A has some antioxidant characteristics, according to Mayo Clinic. Harvard Health Publishing explains that antioxidants help slow or reverse oxidative damage to your DNA and cells, which plays a role in many age-related conditions.
According to a 2019 article published in Nutrients, several small randomized controlled trials suggest that supplementing with antioxidant vitamins may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss. However, the data is not conclusive. Some larger trials, according to the same article, have found no difference between groups that supplement and those that do not.
Even if the data on antioxidants is unclear, the data on vitamin A is not. Vitamin A is especially important for eye health.
Vitamin A deficiency can cause xerophthalmia, a condition that damages your corneas. Xerophthalmia is the leading cause of preventable blindness, according to a 2021 article published in StatPearls.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, vitamin A is found in leafy green vegetables, eggs, and orange foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupes.
Vitamin C, another antioxidant, may help reduce the risk of age-related eye disease and dry eye, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Like vitamin A, it may also lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
You can get vitamin C from oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, red and green peppers, and broccoli.
Another important antioxidant, vitamin E, can also help lower the risk of age-related eye damage. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, this vitamin may also help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and dry eye—especially when you take it along with vitamins C and E, beta-carotene (which is converted to Vitamin A in your body), zinc, and copper.
Zeaxanthin and Lutein
“Zeaxanthin and lutein are crucial for protecting against UV damage in the eyes,” Morgyn Clair, MS, a registered dietitian, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “UV damage can lead to blindness and irreparable damage.”
“Early research indicates [zeaxanthin and lutein] may be good for staving off symptoms of macular degeneration. Find these nutrients in grapes, spinach, kiwis, and eggs,” Clair adds.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
“For dry eye, we recommend taking at least 1,000 milligrams of Omega-3 EPAs each day, which helps with inflammation—a major cause of chronic dry eye,” Juanita Collier, MS, OD, FCOVD, a behavioral optometrist and owner of 4D Vision Gym, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
About 5% of Americans experience dry eye severe enough to diagnose dry eye disease, according to a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. Dry eye can also be a LASIK side effect.
“When choosing a daily supplement, it’s important to look at the breakdown of EPA vs. DHA types of Omega-3s, as EPA is better at reducing inflammation, whereas DHA is better for neurological and brain health. Flaxseed oil tends to be a bit harder for our bodies to break down, so fish oil is ideal,” Collier says.
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