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Medically Approved

Vitamins for eye health: 9 options

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Vitamin AVitamins B6, B9, and B12Vitamin B1Vitamin B2Vitamin B3Vitamin CVitamin ECarotenoidsOmega-3 fatty acidsOther treatment options
Having a deficiency of certain vitamins can affect your eye health and cause symptoms such as blurry vision or eye floaters. Supplementing with vitamins or omega-3 fatty acids may help.
Medically reviewed by Amy Richter, RD
Updated on April 24, 2023

The human eyes are a complex organ requiring many different nutrients and vitamins to work correctly. Common underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or glaucoma, can affect the health and functionality of your eyes.

A healthy and balanced diet can help you consume sufficient essential nutrients, which may also help reduce the risk of developing eye conditions.

There are several supplements that can help improve the health of your eyes.

1. Vitamin A

An image of somebody holding a vitamin pill up to their mouth.
Asya Molochkova/Stocksy United

Vitamin A deficiency is rare in developed countries. But if you are deficient in vitamin A, it could lead to the development of serious eye conditions that can result in blindness, such as xerophthalmia (a form of ocular disease).

It plays an important role in maintaining a clear cornea (the outside layer of your eye). Vitamin A is also a component of the vitamin called rhodopsin, which helps you see in low light conditions.

Vitamin A supplements, in the form of beta carotene, may also help reduce the risk for conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Vitamin A-rich foods include:

2. Vitamins B6, B9, and B12

A sufficient intake of B6, B9, and B12 vitamins can reduce homocysteine levels, a protein that can cause inflammation, and increase the risk of a potential onset of eye conditions, such as AMD.

Foods rich in vitamins B6, 9, and 12 can include:

3. Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

Vitamin B1 plays an important role in converting food into energy, and it helps many cell functions. Vitamin B1-rich foods can include:

  • meat
  • fish
  • whole grains
  • pasta and cereals fortified with vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 can also play a role in preventing diabetic retinopathy, as it lowers the amount of albumin (a protein found in the blood) present in your urine.

4. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 is a nutrient with antioxidant properties that can help reduce oxidative stress in your eyes and can play an important role in preventing cataracts.

A prolonged and severe riboflavin deficiency may lead to the development of health conditions, such as anemia and cataracts.

Vitamin B2-rich foods may include:

  • milk
  • yogurt
  • beef
  • oats
  • cereals fortified with vitamin B2

5. Vitamin B3 (niacin)

A 2018 study notes that a low intake of vitamin B3 (niacin) may increase the risk of developing glaucoma in the future. A 2021 study also suggests that an increased intake of vitamin B3 results in a decreased risk of developing glaucoma.

But more research is needed to define the connection between glaucoma and vitamin B3.

You should consider taking niacin supplements with caution under medical monitoring as they may cause undesired side effects for eye health, including:

  • blurred vision
  • inflammation of the eye, particularly those with dry eye disease
  • decreased visual acuity

Vitamin B3-rich foods can include:

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6. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect your eyes from the damaging effect of free radicals, which are atoms that can damage cells and result in illness. It can also help prevent the onset of other health conditions, such as AMD.

Taking vitamin C supplements if you are deficient may also help reduce the risk of cataracts.

Vitamin C-rich foods can include:

7. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, and a sufficient intake of this nutrient may help reduce the risk of certain age-related health conditions, such as cataracts and AMD. It can also protect your eyes from the damaging effect of free radicals.

Vitamin E-rich foods can include:

  • wheat germ oil
  • sunflower seeds and oil
  • almonds
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • kiwi fruit
  • mango

8. Carotenoids

Carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, are nutrients typically found in the macula and retina of your eyes.

A 2017 review suggests that carotenoids, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, may help reduce the risk of developing conditions like cataracts and AMD.

A balanced diet, rich in vegetables and fruit, typically provides sufficient amounts of carotenoids. Foods rich in carotenoids can include:

  • kale
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • pumpkin
  • eggs
  • avocado
  • oranges

9. Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may include:

A 2018 review suggests that a diet rich in oily fish and containing high omega-3 fatty acids is linked with a reduced risk of diabetic retinopathy.

A 2019 meta-analysis states that omega-3 fatty acids could also be essential in treating people with dry eye disease symptoms. This condition typically causes blurry vision and dryness of the eyes. Omega-3 fatty acids can help increase the production of tears, improving the discomfort and symptoms of dry eye disease.

What other treatment options are available to improve eye health?

Supplements may not be enough to treat certain eye conditions. In some cases, you may need other types of treatment to improve your symptoms.

The type of treatment can vary depending on the health condition and its severity. While conditions like dry eye disease may be treated with eye drops or medications, other conditions, like cataracts, may require surgery.

Consider speaking with a healthcare professional to determine which options may be best for you.

Summary

An appropriate intake of certain nutrients and vitamins may help reduce the risk of various types of eye conditions. People can take supplements to increase the intake of those nutrients that are missing in their diets.

Eating a balanced diet of vitamins, nutrients, and healthy fats may help boost your health. It can also help protect your eyes and body from many health conditions.

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