Good nutrition is important for overall health, but also for your eyes to perform at their best. Certain vitamins can help improve your vision as well as prevent eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.

Here are some of the most important vitamins for your eyes and why you need them.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a component of rhodopsin, a protein that helps you see in the dark. Untreated vitamin A deficiency - rare in developed countries - can lead to a night blindness.1 Research shows that vitamin A-rich diets can lower risk for cataracts (clouding of the lens of your eye) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).2,3 Foods that contain Beta carotene (a pigment that gives plants their orange and yellow color) are good for your eyes because your body converts it into vitamin A.1

Sources: carrots, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, pumpkin, cantaloupe, mangoes, spinach

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your eyes from free radicals, which we’re exposed to regularly through food and the environment.4 Vitamin C may lower risk for AMD and cataracts.5,6 In fact, one study found that people who consumed over 490 mg of vitamin C daily had a 75% lower risk of cataracts when compared to people who consumed less than 125 mg.7

Sources: citrus, broccoli, red bell peppers, kale, tropical fruits

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another antioxidant. A 7-year study of 3,640 people with AMD found that 400 IU of vitamin E daily, as part of an eye health supplement called AREDS, experienced a 25% lower risk of advanced disease progression.5

Sources: peanut butter, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, almonds, spinach, broccoli

Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

Thiamin may help prevent cataracts and treat diabetic retinopathy. A 2009 study of 2,900 Australians found that a higher intake of thiamin, vitamin A, niacin, riboflavin, and protein was associated with a 40% lower cataract risk.8,9

Sources: fortified cereals, trout, black beans, mussels, tuna, sunflower seeds, oatmeal

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Riboflavin deficiency is common among people with cataracts.10 One study found that consuming 1.6-2.2 mg of riboflavin led to a 31-55% lower risk of cataracts compared to only 0.08 mg.11

Sources: eggs, low-fat dairy, lean meats, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, fortified breads and cereals

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Niacin may help prevent glaucoma, a condition in which your optic nerve is damaged. Although niacin is important, consuming high amounts of 1.5-5 grams per day may lead to blurred vision and eye inflammation.12,13

Sources: tuna, chicken, salmon, pork, avocado, mushrooms, green peas, potatoes, brown rice

Vitamins B6, B9, and B12

This combination of B vitamins has been studied for its ability to lower your levels of homocysteine, a protein that may increase AMD risk. A 2009 study of 5,442 women found that 1,000 mcg of B12 combined with B6 and B9 reduced risk for AMD by 34%.14,15

Sources: meat, fish, whole grains, peanuts, potatoes, peas, chickpeas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, eggs, dairy products, nutritional yeast, fortified plant milks

Vision Clear is a great source of many of these vitamins, in addition to other micronutrients known to benefit eye health, like lutein, zeaxanthin, and various minerals.

Yours in health-

Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

IVL Community Registered Dietitian

References

  1. Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated Oct 5, 2018. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
  2. Wang A, Han J, & Jiang Y et al. Association of vitamin A and β-carotene with risk for age-related cataract: a meta-analysis. Nutrition. 2014 Oct;30(10):1113-21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25194611
  3. Kuzniarz M, Mitchell P, & Cumming RG et al. Use of vitamin supplements and cataract: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Am J Ophthalmol. 2001 Jul;132(1):19-26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11438049
  4. Vitamin C: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated Sept 18, 2018. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
  5. Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group. A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001 Oct;119(10):1417-36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11594942
  6. Carr AC & Frei B. Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on antioxidant and health effects in humans. Amer J Clin Nutr. 1999 June; 69(6): 1086-1107. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/69/6/1086/4714888
  7. Jacques PF & Chylack LT Jr. Epidemiologic evidence of a role for the antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids in cataract prevention. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1 Suppl):352S-355S. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1985409
  8. Cumming RG, Mitchell P, & Smith W. Diet and cataract: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Ophthalmology. 2000 Mar;107(3):450-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10711880
  9. Rabbani N, Alam S, & Riaz S et al. High-dose thiamine therapy for patients with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria: a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study. Diabetologia. 2009 Feb;52(2):208-12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19057893
  10. Riboflavin: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated Aug 20, 2018. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Riboflavin-HealthProfessional/
  11. Mares-Perlman JA, Brady WE, & Klein BE, et al. Diet and nuclear lens opacities. Am J Epidemiol. 1995 Feb 15;141(4):322-34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7840110
  12. Jung KI, Kim YC, & Park CK. Dietary Niacin and Open-Angle Glaucoma: The Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Nutrients. 2018 Apr; 10(4): 387. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946172/
  13. Domanico D, Verboschi F, & Altimari S et al. Ocular Effects of Niacin: A Review of the Literature. Med Hypothesis Discov Innov Ophthalmol. 2015 Summer; 4(2): 64–71. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458328/
  14. Huang P, Wang F, & Sah BK et al. Homocysteine and the risk of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Rep. 2015; 5: 10585. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4508850/
  15. Christen WG, Glynn RJ, & Chew EY et al. Folic acid, pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin combination treatment and age-related macular degeneration in women: the Women's Antioxidant and Folic Acid Cardiovascular Study. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Feb 23;169(4):335-41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19237716