The 9 Most Important Vitamins for Eye Health
Here are 9 key vitamins and nutrients that help maintain eye health.
1. Vitamin A
Xerophthalmia is a progressive eye disease which begins with night blindness. If vitamin A deficiency continues, your tear ducts and eyes can dry out. Eventually, your cornea softens, resulting in irreversible blindness. Vitamins for Eyesight
Vitamin A may also help protect against other eye afflictions. Some studies suggest that diets high in vitamin A may be associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (3Trusted ).
Severe vitamin A deficiency can lead to xerophthalmia, a serious condition that can result in blindness. In some studies, high amounts of vitamin A intake were associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
2. Vitamin E
In addition, some studies suggest that diets high in vitamin E helps prevent age-related cataracts. However, more research is needed as some studies show no association between vitamin E and this condition (10Trusted Source). Vitamins for Eyesight
Vitamin E, an antioxidant, may help protect your eyes against damaging free radicals. It’s used in a daily supplement called AREDS as a potential treatment for AMD, and high amounts in your diet may be associated with a reduced risk of cataracts.
Vitamin C and several other nutrients are used in the supplement NATURAL CARE PACK (FECP), which may benefit those with AMD. When taken daily, one study suggests that AREDS may reduce the risk of this condition progressing by 25% (9Trusted Source). Vitamins for Eyesight
Several observational studies suggest that vitamin C may help lower your risk of developing cataracts, a condition that causes your eye to become cloudy and impairs vision (13Trusted Source). Vitamins for Eyesight
Vitamin C forms collagen, a protein that provides structure to your eyes. Observational studies suggest that this vitamin may protect against cataracts and help prevent the progression of AMD.
4. Vitamins B6, B9 and B12
This combination of vitamins can lower levels of homocysteine, a protein in your body that may be associated with inflammation and an increased risk of developing AMD (16Trusted Source). Vitamins for Eyesight
However, more research is needed to confirm the benefits of these supplements. In addition, it’s unclear if increasing your intake of vitamin-B-rich foods would have similar effects. Vitamins for Eyesight
Another B vitamin studied in relation to eye health is riboflavin (vitamin B2). As an antioxidant, riboflavin has the potential to reduce oxidative stress in your body, including your eyes (18). Vitamins for Eyesight
In particular, scientists are studying riboflavin’s potential to prevent cataracts, as prolonged riboflavin deficiency may lead to this condition. Interestingly, many individuals with cataracts also are deficient in this antioxidant (19, 20Trusted Source). Vitamins for Eyesight
One study found a 31–51% decreased risk of cataracts development when participants’ diets included 1.6–2.2 mg of riboflavin per day, compared to .08 mg per day (21Trusted Source).
Health authorities recommend consuming 1.1–1.3 mg of riboflavin per day. It’s usually easy to achieve this amount, as many foods are high in riboflavin. Some examples include oats, milk, yogurt, beef and fortified cereals. Vitamins for Eyesight
As an antioxidant, riboflavin may protect against damaging free radicals in your eyes. Diets high in riboflavin have been associated with a reduced risk of developing cataracts.
Recently, studies have suggested that niacin may play a role in the prevention of glaucoma, a condition in which the optic nerve of your eye becomes damaged (23).
For example, an observational study on the nutrient consumption of Korean adults and their risk for glaucoma found an association between low dietary intake of niacin and this condition (24Trusted Source).
In addition, an animal study showed that high doses of niacin supplements were effective in preventing glaucoma (25Trusted Source).
Overall, more research on the potential link between niacin and glaucoma is needed. Vitamins for Eyesight
Supplements should be used with caution. When consumed in high amounts of 1.5–5 grams per day, niacin may pose adverse effects to the eyes, including blurred vision, macular damage and inflammation of the cornea (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
However, there is no evidence that consuming foods naturally high in niacin has any adverse effects. Some food sources include beef, poultry, fish, mushrooms, peanuts and legumes. Vitamins for Eyesight
Studies suggest that niacin may prevent the development of glaucoma, but supplements should be used with caution.
7. Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are part of the carotenoid family, a group of beneficial compounds synthesized by plants. Vitamins for Eyesight
Both of these carotenoids can be found in the macula and retina of your eyes, where they help filter potentially harmful blue light, thus protecting your eyes from damage (28Trusted Source).
A randomized, controlled study found potential benefits of lutein for people with cataracts. Over two years, those taking supplements containing 15 mg of lutein three times per week experienced improvements in vision (31Trusted Source). Vitamins for Eyesight
Recommended daily intakes and safe supplemental doses have not been established for these compounds. However, up to 20 mg of lutein per day for 6 months has been used in studies without adverse effects.
Nonetheless, supplements may not be necessary. As little as 6 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin may yield benefits, and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables naturally provides this amount. Cooked spinach, kale and collard greens are particularly high in these carotenoids (32). Vitamins for Eyesight
Lutein and zeaxanthin are beneficial plant compounds that may help prevent AMD and cataracts. No recommended daily intakes have been established, but a diet high in fruits and vegetables can provide plenty of these nutrients.
7. Omega 3 fatty acids
A review of 31 studies suggested that diets high in oily fish — such as the traditional Mediterranean diet — may protect against DR. Although these findings need to be corroborated with more research, they imply that fatty acids may be responsible (34Trusted Source). Vitamins for Eyesight
Omega-3 fats may also benefit individuals with dry eye disease by helping them produce more tears. With this condition, a lack of tears causes dryness, discomfort and occasional blurry vision (33Trusted