Best Foods and Vitamins for Eye Health

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kevin Aister DO

Apr 21, 2020

Eye health is an essential factor in your overall well-being and quality of life. While you may experience changes in your vision as you age, you don’t have to accept vision loss as an inevitable fact of life. There are several simple self-care measures you can take to preserve your eye health, including proper nutrition. Some nutrients are especially valuable for lifelong good eyesight. Below are some foods and vitamins that will support your vision health.

Leafy green vegetables

Leafy greens should be a significant part of your diet if you’re concerned about your eyesight. Kale, cabbage, spinach, and collard greens are great for your whole body, including your eyes. Leafy greens have lots of essential minerals and other nutrients like zeaxanthin and lutein. They’re also high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, which are vital for good eye health.

Oily fish

One of the most important types of food to add to your shopping list is oily fish. Tuna, salmon, herring, sardines, and other oily fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are heavily implicated in eye health. It’s easy to incorporate these into your diet: a salmon steak once or twice a week, tuna salad for lunch, sardines on toast as a snack. You can also boost your intake with supplements like cod liver oil or krill oil.

Carrots, sweet potatoes, and peppers

You’ve probably heard the old story that carrots are good for your night vision. While the legendary sight-enhancing properties of carrots have been massively exaggerated, they indeed contain certain compounds that are important for maintaining good eye health. Along with some other red and green vegetables, particularly sweet potatoes and red or orange peppers, carrots contain a substance called beta carotene. In the human body, this is converted into vitamin A. A vitamin A deficiency can cause sight problems. While most people in the developed world won’t suffer from such a deficiency, it’s still important to include plenty of beta carotene sources in your diet.

Citrus fruits

Vitamin C is indispensable for good eye health, as well as health throughout the body’s systems. This powerful antioxidant is found in abundance in oranges, with slightly lower (but still significant) levels in lemons and limes. Drinking orange juice with your breakfast is a great way to get most of the vitamin C you need. Oranges also make a delicious snack and are a tasty ingredient for your cooking. Try tomato and orange soup as part of a vitamin-rich meal or enjoy a handful of blueberries with your breakfast.

Seeds

Crunchy and tasty, many seeds contain nutrients implicated in eye health: vitamins, minerals like zinc, and omega-3s. Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds are all delicious additions to your daily diet. You can munch hulled seeds as a snack, sprinkle them over your cereal, bake them in bread or stir them into your porridge or yogurt for texture and flavor.

Tree nuts

Tree nuts are packed with excellent nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Almonds, in particular, are very valuable for good eyesight, as they have high levels of vitamin E. Most tree nuts are rich in this eye health vitamin, however, so grab your favorite nuts for a snack.

Water

Not strictly a food or a nutrient, water is still vital for your eye health. If you routinely allow yourself to become dehydrated, the tissues of your eye will be affected. You’re more likely to develop infections that could damage your vision if your eyes are too dry. You may also find that chronic dehydration makes your eyes less resilient against age-related deterioration. A varied and healthy diet is crucial for your vision. If you’re eating correctly, you might not even need eye health supplements. Your diet should be balanced, limited in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, and high in fresh fruits and vegetables. The worst foods for eye health are processed foods with high levels of saturated fat, lots of refined carbohydrates, and little nutrition. Without a proper balance of vitamins and minerals, you may find that your eyesight is just one aspect of your health that suffers.

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