8 Nutrients That Can Improve Your Eye Health

Eyes are probably the most important of your five sensory organs

Taking care of your eyes is as important as taking care of your body.

Who doesn’t want to enjoy a life with good vision?

Good nutrition can help maintain and protect your eyes from damage.

As you get older you are at risk of developing common eye conditions like cataracts, age related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. The risk of developing these diseases depends on your age, genetics and most important lifestyle.

Although the risk of getting these conditions depends to some extent on your genes, your diet also plays a major role.


Here are 8 nutrients that are good for your eyes.


1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most important nutrients. Vitamin A deficiency can even lead to blindness.

This vitamin helps in maintaining photoreceptors in your eyes.

Vitamin A deficiency may lead to night blindness, dry eyes, or even more serious conditions, depending on the severity of your deficiency.

Vitamin A is only found in animal products like liver, egg yolks, and dairy products.

However, you can also get vitamin A from antioxidant plant compounds called provitamin A carotenoids, found in high amounts in carrots, pumpkin, kale and spinach.

RDA: 3,000 IU for men; 2,333 IU for women (2,567 IU during pregnancy and 4,333 IU when breast-feeding).

2. Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow carotenoid antioxidants known as macular pigments.

Lutein and zeaxanthin act as a natural sunblock. They play a central role in protecting your eyes against harmful blue light.  A high intake of lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce your risk of eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Lutein and zeaxanthin usually occur together in foods. Dark green leafy vegetables such as Spinach, kale, parsley, and broccoli, corn, peas, persimmons and tangerines are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.


3. Selenium

 When combined with carotenoids and vitamins C and E, it may reduce risk of advanced AMD.

Best food sources include 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).


4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

 Omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish or supplements may reduce your risk of several eye diseases especially dry eyes.

Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation, enhance tear production and support the lipid layer of tear film.

The best dietary source omega-3 fatty acids is oily fish. Additionally, omega-3 supplements derived from fish or microalgae are widely available.

5. Gamma-Linolenic Acid

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid found in small amounts in the modern diet.

GLA is found in high amounts in evening primrose oil and starflower oil,

GLA appears to have anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce symptoms of dry eye disease.


6. Vitamin C

Unlike any other tissue in your body, your eyes also require high amounts of antioxidants.

Vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts and when taken in combination with other essential nutrients, it can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and vision loss.

For your daily dose, try including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers and tomatoes in your diet.

High amounts of vitamin C are found in many fruits and vegetables, including bell peppers, citrus fruits, guavas, kale, and broccoli.

RDA: 90 mg for men; 70 mg for women (85 mg during pregnancy and 120 mg when breast-feeding)

7. Vitamin E

Vitamin E protects cells in the eyes from free radicals, which break down healthy tissue. The best dietary sources of vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seeds, and vegetable oils like flaxseed oil.

Vitamin E deficiency may lead to visual degeneration and blindness.


8. Zinc

Zinc plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes.

Natural dietary sources of zinc include oysters, meat, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts.

RDA: 11 mg for men; 8 mg for women

Deficiency of zinc may lead to impaired night vision and early cataract formation.


To summarize,

Healthy habits, such as consuming wholesome nutritious diet and regular exercise, not only help prevent many lifestyle diseases but also maintain eye health.

Getting enough nutrients listed above may help reduce your risk of eye conditions.

A diet that keeps your whole body healthy will keep your eyes healthy, too.