The best vitamins for eye health can have a major impact on your vision and overall eye health, as you grow older. Most people know that carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A and one of the most widely known nutrients that can boost eye health.
But there are actually several other vitamins on the market that can help to improve eye health and some can even minimize the symptoms associated with certain conditions such as red eyes and dry eyes. But can vitamins really have an impact and your vision? Can vitamins and minerals boost eye health? Can they work to prevent certain eye conditions and diseases?
There have been many claims concerning the positive effects of supplements on eye health and vision and a few research studies that can support these claims, although research is ongoing. I’ve included several important vitamins and nutrients that can help to slow down the progression of certain eye conditions as we age, and can even reduce your risk of developing age-related diseases such as glaucoma, later on in life. In this guide, I’ve included signs of vitamin deficiencies, great food sources for each type of vitamin, and the best product recommendations for each vitamin and nutrient. These vitamin supplements will be a great option if you feel like you’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients from your diet alone.
The Power of Vitamins
The eyes need a variety of nutrients and vitamins in order to function properly. The eye is considered a very complex organ and needs certain vitamins and nutrients to support eye health and to prevent age-related changes in vision, in addition to some common conditions including chronic redness and other symptoms that are associated with dry eyes.
Macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma are just some of the common conditions that can affect the eyes. Fortunately, nutrition influences all these conditions, at least partially. Because of this, I have created a guide that includes the top vitamins and nutrients that can help you to maintain eye health even in your golden years.
Below, you’ll find an extensive list of the top vitamins that can help to improve vision and eye health. Keep in mind, these vitamins cannot prevent certain conditions from developing, nor can they cure them. But, in some cases, they can help to slow down their progression.
This vitamin plays an important role in maintaining vision by preventing the cornea from clouding up. The cornea is the outside covering of the eye. Vitamin A is derived from rhodopsin, which is a type of protein found in the eyes that allows us to see even in low-light conditions. While a deficiency in vitamin A is rare, it can happen. If left untreated it can result in serious vision issues.
Xerophthalmia is a condition that occurs due to a vitamin A deficiency. This is a type of progressive disease starts off with a decreased ability to see in low light conditions. If allowed to continue, this type of deficiency can have an impact on tear production and tear ducts in general. This can lead to dry eyes, chronic red eyes, and general irritation. Over time, this deficiency causes the softening of corneas which can lead to irreversible blindness if left untreated.
Did you know that this vitamin can also help to protect against other eye-related health issues? Some studies have found that a diet that’s high in vitamin A has been linked to the reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
To prevent a vitamin A deficiency, go right to the source. Foods that are rich in vitamin A include:
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Leafy green veggies
- Are all great sources of vitamin A.
How it Helps
In order to see the full spectrum of light, the eyes must be able to produce certain pigments, which impact the retina directly. Because of this, vitamin A plays an important role in your vision. Without a healthy level of vitamin A in the body, this vitamin, the overproduction of these pigments that can lead to night blindness. As I mentioned earlier, this vitamin can also nourish other parts of the eye such as the cornea.
Signs of Vitamin A Deficiency
Fortunately, a vitamin A deficiency is totally preventable. The main sign of a vitamin A deficiency includes the inability to see well at night, with no other underlying cause.
Remember, a severe deficiency in vitamin A can lead to xerophthalmia, which is a condition that can result in complete irreversible blindness. Normal levels of daily vitamin A can also help to combat the development of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. If you’re struggling to get the daily recommended dose of vitamin A from your food then I recommend taking Now Foods Vitamin A, daily. This is an excellent source of vitamin A and it features a highly potent formula that ensures you’ll get the recommended daily dose.
Several eye conditions are believed to be linked with oxidative stress. This is a condition in which there is an imbalance between the free radicals in the body and antioxidants. A potent antioxidant, vitamin E, can help protect the cells in the eyes from damage caused by free radicals. These Invaders are actually unstable, toxic molecules in the body. Studies have shown that a diet that’s high in vitamin E can combat age-related cataracts and macular degeneration.
In order to maintain proper eye health, a diet that’s high in vitamin E is recommended.
- Good sources of vitamin E rich foods include:
- Leafy green veggies
How it Helps
In order to function properly, the body needs vitamin E. Since it’s fat-soluble it will require fat from your diet in order to be absorbed properly. Mainly stored in the liver, vitamin E is released into the bloodstream and put to work.
Signs of a Vitamin E Deficiency
A vitamin E deficiency is not very common and is often the result of an underlying condition. This type of deficiency is primarily found in infants born prematurely. A blood test will be needed in order to determine whether or not you have a vitamin E deficiency. With this simple blood test, a doctor can determine the level of vitamin E in the body. Typically a normal level of vitamin E will range from 5 mg up to 15 mg per liter. Of course, infants and children under 17 will have a healthy range that’s different from an adult.
If an adult has less than 4 mg of vitamin E in their blood they will need to use a supplement to increase these levels quickly. A sign of vitamin E deficiency can include changes in vision and disorientation. If left untreated, this type of deficiency can lead to chronic muscle weakness. This is because vitamin E is crucial to the central nervous system. Additionally, other symptoms can include difficulty ambulating, a lack of energy, and vision deterioration. A vitamin E deficiency can impact your vision because it weakens the light receptors found in the retina. Over time this can lead to permanent vision loss.
A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E can help protect the eyes against free radical damage. If you’re not getting enough vitamin E from your diet, you can take a daily supplement, such as Nature Made Vitamin E, which can help to combat a vitamin E deficiency, while promoting overall eye health. With continued healthy levels of vitamin E in the body, you can prevent age-related visual changes which can also reduce your risk of developing cataracts later on in life.
Vitamin C is another type of powerful antioxidant that can protect the eyes against damage caused by free radicals. When taken daily, it can help to prevent age-related eye diseases and can benefit people who have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration.
Vitamin C is required in order to produce collagen which is a type of protein that provides structure to the sclera and cornea. Several studies have shown that vitamin C can also help to reduce your risk of developing cataracts later on in life.
Some great sources of vitamin C include:
- Bell peppers
- Tropical fruit
- Citrus fruit
How it Helps
People commonly believe that vitamin C can only help when it comes to fighting a cold, but research has shown us that it can also prevent cataracts later on in life. While developing cataracts is not totally avoidable, you may be able to delay the onset or prevent your condition from worsening if you eat foods that are high in vitamin C. As we age, cataracts occur naturally and can cause the lenses in the eyes to become cloudy, which can significantly impact our vision.
If cataracts are not removed they can lead to total blindness. Vitamin C can help protect against the progression of existing cataracts, although it may not be able to entirely prevent them from developing. As a very powerful antioxidant, it’s able to slow down the progression because it can help prevent oxidation, which is what leads to clouding of the lenses. Foods that are high in vitamin C or a daily supplement can help to boost the amount of vitamin C in the fluids found in the eyes, which will provide an extra level of protection against cataract development.
Signs of a Vitamin C Deficiency
Signs of a vitamin C deficiency can include the following symptoms:
- Swollen gums
- Eye pain and headache
- Joint pain
- Dry skin
- Weakened immune system
Vitamin C supports both adaptive and innate immune function, impacting how well cells involved in this multifaceted and complex system perform. Because of this, low levels of vitamin C in the body can negatively impact immune system strength.
Chronic bruising is another common sign of a vitamin C deficiency. Bruises develop when the blood vessels rupture under the skin, causing blood to leak to the surface. If you notice that your skin is easily bruised, this can indicate poor collagen production which causes weaker blood vessels. Bruises that are deficiency-related can cover a larger portion of the body or they may appear as very tiny purple dots under the skin. In fact, easy bruising is actually one of the most common and obvious symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.
While there are many different ways that you can increase the levels of vitamin C in your body, such as eating foods rich in this nutrient, taking a daily supplement will ensure that you’re getting the right level of vitamin C to support both eye health and the immune system. I recommend NOW Supplements Vitamin C, which features a highly potent formula that will ensure you get the recommended daily dose. If you’re guilty of not following a proper diet, then this supplement can help to boost vision and immune system health.
Scientists who have studied B vitamins have learned that many can impact eye health, specifically vitamins B2, B12, B9, and B6. These vitamins, when used together, can reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration by as much as 35%.
Research is ongoing and because of this, we continue to learn more about the benefits of B vitamins and how they can impact eye health as we grow older.
Vitamin B2 is also referred to as riboflavin. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that can potentially reduce the levels of oxidative stress in the eyes and body. Scientist have specifically studied this vitamin for its ability to prevent cataracts, considering a prolonged vitamin B2 deficiency can lead to this condition. During this study, scientists found that many people with cataracts were also vitamin B2 deficient.
One study determined that taking a vitamin B2 supplement daily reduced the risk of cataract development by as much as 50%. Since many foods are high in riboflavin, it’s pretty easy to achieve the recommended daily dose.
Good sources of vitamin B2 include:
- Fortified cereals
How it Can help
This vitamin is essential for overall health and growth and development. It works by breaking down fats, proteins, and carbs, in order to produce energy that allows the body to use oxygen. It’s also used for the development and function of essential organs, such as the eyes, digestive tract, and skin.
It’s essential to eye health because it protects the glutathione, an essential antioxidant found in the eyes. Following a diet that’s high in vitamin B2 can minimize your risk of developing cataracts later on in life.
Additionally, certain minerals, chemicals, and vitamins found in the bloodstream are dependent on high levels of riboflavin. As an example, B2 converts vitamins B9 and B6 to a form that the body can use. The body is also more likely to develop anemia because riboflavin is essential to how the body processes iron.
Signs of Vitamin B2 Deficiency
A B2 vitamin deficiency is rare since this vitamin is commonly found in many foods. However, some people are more prone to vitamin deficiencies than others. Especially those who partake in extreme crash diets or people who are underweight. It can also affect people with certain digestive issues such as those with celiac disease. A deficiency in vitamin B2 can lead to anemia. It can also cause some of the following symptoms:
- Lip and mouth sores
- Swelling of the soft tissue in the mouth
- Inflammation of the skin
- Decreased energy
As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin B2 can protect against damage caused by free radicals and the development of cataracts. As a supplement, vitamin B2 is often included in a B-complex vitamin. However, it’s also available separately in doses ranging from 25 mg up to 100 mg. I recommend Nutricost Vitamin B2 for your daily dose of riboflavin. When taken regularly you will significantly reduce your risk of developing cataracts, other age-related eye conditions, while also boosting eye health.
The main function of vitamin B3 is to help the body convert food into energy. However, it can also work as a powerful antioxidant. New studies have also suggested that it can play a vital role in the prevention of glaucoma, which is a condition that affects the optic nerve of the eye. However, it’s important to carefully follow the instructions for use if you’re taking this supplement. When consumed in high amounts, this B vitamin can pose adverse effects to the eyes including inflammation of the cornea, macular damage, and blurred vision. However, there’s no evidence that a high diet of foods that contain vitamin B3 have any type of adverse effects.
Good sources of vitamin B3 will include the following:
This vitamin is an essential nutrient that will keep the body properly functioning, prevents the development of glaucoma, and can help to treat a condition called pellagra, which can develop in people who have a severe vitamin B3 deficiency.
How it Helps
A neurodegenerative eye disease called glaucoma is characterized by the loss of the ganglion cells, which can lead to blindness. This impact on your vision can begin with the loss of peripheral vision, which will result in tunnel vision.
Recently, a study showed that taking vitamin B3 as a preventative measure or as part of standard glaucoma treatment helped to boost mitochondrial health. Mitochondria are considered the powerhouse of all cells and can produce the majority of cell energy. Because of this, taking regular vitamin B3 can help to correct any mitochondrial abnormalities, which can have a big impact on different types of neurodegenerative diseases, including glaucoma.
Vitamin B3 Deficiency
This type of deficiency can occur when a person does not get enough vitamin B3 or their body is unable to absorb enough. However, a vitamin B3 deficiency is extremely rare. As I mentioned, pellagra is a condition caused by a severe vitamin B3 deficiency. This condition can cause symptoms that are related to the nervous system, digestive system, and the skin. The following symptoms can indicate a severe vitamin B3 deficiency:
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Bright red tongue
- Swollen mouth
- Scaly rash
- Memory loss
If left untreated, this condition can lead to death. Fortunately, with the right supplement, this condition is totally reversible.
In order to reduce your risk of developing glaucoma, a healthy daily dose of this important B vitamin is recommended. If you follow a poor diet and you’re not getting the regular recommended dose of vitamin B2, then I recommend Nutricost Niacin. When used daily, it can prevent a vitamin B deficiency, boost eye health, energy levels, and mental focus.
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the body, including supporting eye health, red blood cell production, and supporting nerve cell function. It’s also responsible for the normal metabolism of cells and bone marrow and the GI tract. A healthy daily dose of vitamin B12 is crucial to promote normal nervous system and brain function. Vitamin B12 is also responsible for boosting energy levels, which is why fatigue is often one of the first signs that can indicate a vitamin deficiency.
A sufficient daily dose can work to minimize the loss of brain neurons which can commonly occur in the elderly. It also naturally boosts the mood since it helps to metabolize and synthesize serotonin. This neurotransmitter helps to promote feelings of well-being and happiness. People who are highly irritable or prone to depression often have low levels of serotonin. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of the importance of a high vitamin B12 intake for eye health.
The best sources of B12 include:
- Milk products
Vegans are more prone to a vitamin B12 deficiency since they cannot consume any natural food sources. Because of this, if you’re following a vegan diet, a supplement will be crucial.
How it Helps
Vitamin B12 can naturally elevate the mood, boost energy levels, improve mental clarity and focus, and so much more. Did you know that the recommended daily dosage of vitamin B12 can help to promote eye health? As we grow older, many of us develop age-related macular degeneration. While this vitamin may not be able to prevent vision deterioration all together, it can help to minimize the effects and slow down the progression.
A study that involved women over the age of 40 showed that a sufficient intake of this vitamin lowered their risk of developing macular degeneration by as much as 40%. Because of this, following a diet that’s high in vitamin B12 is recommended. However, taking a B12 or B-complex supplement will also be effective in lowering your risk of developing macular degeneration, or helping to slow down the progression.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
A vitamin B12 deficiency is called pernicious anemia. This type of deficiency is often caused by the chronic inflammation of the stomach lining, atrophic gastritis, or the lack of intrinsic factor.
The signs of pernicious anemia often include a lack of energy, chronic fatigue, depression, irritability, dizziness, and sleepiness. This type of anemia is often characterized by Immature, large red blood cells. These blood cells indicate the DNA’s inability to divide.
Malabsorption of this vitamin can often result in the yellowing of the eyes and skin, and neurologic disorders. Even a marginal B12 deficiency can impair short-term memory, spatial ability, and intelligence. Advanced symptoms can include paralysis of the feet and hands.
If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough daily vitamin B12, especially if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, then I recommend Nature Made Vitamin B12. With daily use, you can prevent age-related macular degeneration, boost your energy level naturally, and improve mental focus and clarity. This vitamin is often available as a standalone supplement or in a B-complex vitamin.
More Important Nutrients for Eye Health
Below I’ve also included other important nutrients that can have a major impact on eye health and can work to minimize your risk of developing certain eye-related conditions and diseases later on in life.
Zeaxanthin and Lutein
Both zeaxanthin and lutein belong to the carotenoid family, which is a group of compounds that are synthesized by plants. Both of these important compounds can be found in the retina and macula of the eyes. Here they work to filter out potentially harmful blue light, working to protect the eyes from damage. There have been many studies that have suggested that these compounds can also prevent or slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
How it Helps
Both of these compounds are powerful antioxidants that defend the body against free radicals. As you know by now, free radicals can damage the cells in the eyes. They can also contribute to aging and lead to the progression of certain diseases. They work to protect the body’s proteins, DNA, and fats from stressors, and can even help to recycle certain antioxidants in the body.
Most importantly, these compounds work to protect the eyes from free radical damage. Since the eyes are exposed to both light and oxygen, these compounds can protect against toxic oxygen free radicals. These compounds work by canceling out the free radicals so you’re unable to damage the cells in the eyes.
While they’re effective alone, together, they seem to work better to combat free radicals more effectively. They’re also the only known dietary carotenoids that accumulate in the macula region of the retina, which is found in the back of the eye. Since they’re found in this location, they’re known as macular pigments, making them crucial for overall eye health.
Excellent sources of both compounds can be found in:
Zeaxanthin and lutein are both beneficial compounds derived from plants. They help to prevent cataracts and the onset of age-related macular degeneration. At this time studies have not determined what the recommended daily dose is for either compound, however, a diet that’s high in veggies and fruits are great sources. But if you normally eat a diet that’s low in fruits and veggies then supplements such as Puritans Pride Lutein 40 Mg with Zeaxanthin, can ensure that you’re receiving enough lutein and zeaxanthin daily.
A type of polyunsaturated fat known as omega-3 fatty acids works to form the cells of the eye. The cell membranes of the retina actually contain a high concentration of DHA, which is a specific type of Omega-3. Aside from helping to form the cells in the eye, this important fatty acid also possesses anti-inflammatory properties which will also play a huge role in preventing diabetic retinopathy. Studies have shown that a diet high in fish can help to protect against diabetic retinopathy. All these findings are fairly new and more research is needed, yet the data thus far is very promising.
In order to boost the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, increase your intake of:
- Oily fish
- Olive oil
- Chia seeds
- Canola oil
How it Helps
Omega-3 fatty acids can also benefit people that are suffering from dry eye syndrome. These fats will work to help improve tear production. With dry eye syndrome, the eyes are unable to produce enough tears, which results in dryness that can be very inflammatory and uncomfortable. It’s also the main cause of watery eyes in the elderly. It can also have an impact on vision due to swelling and eye discharge. Using the best eye drops can help to relieve symptoms associated with dry eyes, but making dietary changes will be very important when it comes to managing this condition.
Signs of a Fatty Acid Deficiency
Taking a daily supplement, or following a diet that’s high in Omega-3s is the key to well-functioning cells throughout the body, not to mention a healthy heart. But if you’re not getting enough fatty acids in your diet, then this can result in a fatty acid deficiency.
Signs of a fatty acid deficiency include:
- Bumpy skin
- Dry, rough skin
- Trouble sleeping
- Brittle, dry hair
- Excessive thirst
- Brittle, peeling, soft nails
- Mood swings
- Trouble focusing
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, then you may have a fatty acid deficiency. Your physician can do a blood test to check out your fatty acid profile. Some causes of this deficiency can include diabetes, stress, alcohol, genetics, and smoking. It can also be a matter of simply not enough fatty acids in your diet.
Because these fatty acids possess anti-inflammatory properties that may help to prevent the onset of diabetic retinopathy, it’s important to take a daily supplement. Additionally, it can also minimize the effects of age-related macular degeneration and can help treat dry eye syndrome. If you don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids through diet alone, then I recommend you try Arazo Nutrition Omega 3 Fish Oil 2250mg. This is one of the best-selling fatty acids on the market and features a potent formula that ensures you get your recommended daily dose.
Before You Buy
- Like with any type of packaged food, make sure that you read the labels on the supplements before you buy. This will ensure that you know exactly what you’re getting.
- Make sure that you check the expiration dates on any bottles you receive in the mail, to determine that the product you’re using is fresh.
- Look for a reputable manufacturer. If you’re shopping online, look for a product that has a high user rating.
- If you have a sensitive stomach, then search for supplements in capsule form as opposed to tablets. This is because tablets can be harder for the system to absorb. Take your supplements with food and water which can reduce the chances of an upset stomach.
- Try to avoid using supplements that contain fillers. Fillers are ingredients that are only used to bulk up the products so that the capsules look like they contain a pure supplement when in reality, they usually contain more filler than supplement.
- Keep in mind that the FDA currently doesn’t regulate dietary supplements, however, the FDA does treat them as food instead of medication. Because of this, the manufacturers are not required to prove that their products are effective or safe. However, the FDA does have the power to have an unsafe product or a defective product removed from the market.
If you’re currently experiencing any types of changes in your vision or you have recently been diagnosed with a disease or condition, speak with your eye care specialist about what supplements may be appropriate for you. Research has already shown that many of these vitamins and nutrients on my list have helped to slow down the progression of certain conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, dry eyes, and age-related eye diseases. Unfortunately, there are no vitamins that can prevent age-related vision changes altogether. However, they can help to slow down the progression. All of the supplements on this list are available over-the-counter.
If you are shopping around for the right eye health supplements, make sure you pay close attention to the label and the recommended daily dose. While getting these vitamins through your diet is ideal, taking supplements is a surefire way to ensure that you’re getting the vitamins you need to improve eye health.