It’s not uncommon to hear that a diet filled with plenty of fruit and vegetables could help you enjoy a lifetime of good vision.
However it is also common knowledge that most of us don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods. Instead opting for high-calorie, low-nutrient alternatives that offer little in the way of benefits for eye health and good vision.
Taking an eye vitamin can help fill the nutritional gaps in a less-than-optimal die. Vitamins for eye health have been widely researched over the last thirty years.
As the world moves into a digital landscape, screen time is increasing, and eye health is deteriorating. Every day, 250 people start to lose their sight in the UK. This is equivalent to one person every six minutes.
While most sight loss is entirely unpreventable, there are things we can do to slow the process. Supplements have been proven to have benefit eye health over the last decade, most notably in individuals with deficiencies.
Some serious eye conditions may be avoided with a diet rich in vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. These can include:
- age-related macular degeneration
- dry eye
Clinical human research is still early, but very promising. A vitamin for eye health will never be a one-stop-shop for vision correction.
They can however be an extremely useful tool not only for your eye health, but for your overall health.
Can an Eye Vitamin Really Work?
If you’re looking for the short answer, yes, vitamins for eye health do work.
From vitamin e, to riboflavin, to vitamin a, research consistently suggests that specific vitamins and nutrients can help to prevent, or slow down, the progression of numerous eye diseases.
Supplements have been proven to have benefit eye health over the last decade, most notably in individuals with deficiencies.
A nutrient rich diet and a handful of vitamins will not transform your vision, in fact, there is very little evidence to suggest any improvement in individuals with healthy eyes. There is no magic pill for 20/20 vision, but there are key vitamins and nutrients that can help to maintain healthy eyes.
Vitamins for Eye Health
The most commonly researched and widely available vitamins for eyes are:
Vitamin A plays a crucial role in vision by helping to keep the cornea clear. It is also a component of rhodopsin, a protein in your eyes that allows you to see in low light conditions. Who needs carrots when you’ve got vitamin A?
Research has also suggested that diets high in vitamin A may be associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) .
Although rare in developed countries, a vitamin A deficiency can lead to xerophthalmia.
Tear ducts and eyes dry out and the cornea softens, eventually resulting in irreversible blindness.
Many eye conditions are caused by oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from this oxidative health. Diets high in vitamin E have been shown to prevent age-related cataracts and reduce the progression rate of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) .
Similarly, to vitamin E, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that may help protect eyes against damaging free radicals.
It is also a vital component in collagen, which is a protein that provides structure to the cornea and the sclera.
Observational studies have shown that this is a vital vitamin for eye health, and that regular supplementation can lower the risk of developing cataracts by up to 45% .
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is a powerful antioxidant with the potential to reduce oxidative stress.
In particular, this eye vitamin is used in the prevention of cataracts. Diets high in riboflavin have been associated with a reduced risk, while prolonged deficiency can lead to the onset of cataracts.
Riboflavin is found in a lot of common food sources, such as oats, milk, yogurt and beef, so it’s fairly easy to hit the daily government recommendations without supplementing.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are beneficial compounds found in the retina and the macula of your eyes, where they help filter potentially harmful blue light.
Several studies have found that they can prevent cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) .
They’ve been found to enhance vision, and can be found naturally in cooked spinach, kale and collard greens.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and can help to prevent diabetic retinopathy (DR) when included in your diet.
They can also benefit individuals with dry eye disease by helping them produce more tears. A lack of tears causes dryness, discomfort and blurry vision.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, chia seeds, soy and nuts.
Best Foods for Eye Health
Maintaining a well-balanced, healthy diet is key to keeping your eyes healthy. A diet high in antioxidants and nutrients can help to prevent the onset of serious eye conditions. A healthy diet for good vision should emphasise lean meats, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables.
Most notably, the top three foods that provide the best bang for your buck when it comes to vitamins for eyes are:
- Fish : Fish is a great food to consume for healthy eyes. They contain omega-3 fatty acids which contribute to visual development and the health of the retina.
- Eggs : Egg yolks are rich in vitamin a, lutein and zeaxanthin which are all vital to eye health. They work to safeguard and protect the cornea, and like help to retain the ability to see in low light conditions.
- Carrots : Where would this list be without carrots? In folklore, eating carrots was suggested to improve your night vision. In reality, they probably won’t help you see in the dark anytime soon, but they are rich in vitamin a and beta carotene, which can improve the surface of the eye and help prevent degenerative eye conditions.
The Best Eye Health Supplement
Eye supplements can either be purchased separately as stand-alone vitamins and nutrients, or as a multi-vitamin, which is often a cost-effective alternative.
Contains lutein, zeaxanthin, bilberry, blackcurrent and saffron. This high quality vision supplement uses optimal dosing, no proprietary blends and is one of the best rated on the market.
MacuShield is specifically formulated to enrich the macula pigment at the back of your eye. It also contains lutein and 2mg of zeaxanthin to help filter blue light and prevent age-related macular degeneration.
3. Visionace Plus
Visionace Plus offers 23 essential nutrients in a single capsule, to be taken in combination with a premium omega-3 and lutein formula. Of the 23 nutrients, it most notably contains vitamins A and B2, which helps support normal vision.
4. MitoQ Eye
MitoQ is a revolutionary eye health formula that supports normal vision and retinal function. It contains lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc, and is formulated to support normal vision acuity and retinal health. It’s a pricy option, but it also has highly potent and active ingredients.
Final Thoughts on Vitamins for Eye Health
For most, supplements aren’t necessary for eye health.
It’s fairly easy to meet the recommended daily intake as suggested by the national eye institute through a well-balanced healthy diet alone. With that being said, it’s common knowledge that across the western world, balanced diets aren’t our strong points.
Taking a vitamin or mineral supplement can help to fill the nutritional gaps in a less-than-optimal diet or ensure those with a deficiency can get a healthy dose of nutrients.
A vitamin for eye health is not a one-stop-shop for vision correction. It is however an extremely useful tool not only for your eye health, but for your overall health.