You’ve heard over and over again that eating the right foods can help you maintain your overall health. But did you know that there are certain foods for eye health that you can also turn to?
It’s true — and although you might not associate what you’re eating with healthy eyesight, there is definitely a connection.
Here are just some of the foods that can boost your eye health, along with some information to help keep your vision as sharp as possible for the years to come.
What Are the “Eye Vitamins?”
Many vitamins are key to eye health — including vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the B vitamins. Here’s a quick look at just how essential these nutrients can be for eyes:
Vitamin A helps to protect your cornea, which is the outermost layer of your eye. The benefits of A vitamins for eye health are enormous. For example, a protein in vitamin A known as “rhodopsin” can help you see better in low light.1
If you don’t get enough vitamin A, your eyes might dry out. When this happens, severe cornea damage can occur — which can eventually lead to blindness.2 Research indicates that foods with vitamin A, such as eggs and carrots, can help reduce the risk of severe vision problems.3,4
Need to get more vitamin A foods for eyes in your diet? Try these:
- Bell pepper
- Leafy green vegetables
There are several B vitamins, including:
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B9 (folic acid)
All of these B vitamins can have significant benefits for eyes. For example, studies suggest that Riboflavin can potentially reduce your risk of cataracts.5 Good sources of this vitamin include milk, beef, and oats. Niacin is also good for eyes. Research suggests niacin may help to reduce the risk of serious eye conditions that can jeopardize your vision.6 You’ll find niacin in foods such as poultry, peanuts, fish, and beef.
The other B vitamins (like B6, B9, and B12) are also important for eyes. When taken together, these vitamins have been shown to lower the chances of developing severe problems affecting eye health.7
Vitamin C is another nutrient that is critical for the eyes. Found mostly in fruits and vegetables, this vitamin can help keep your eyes in good health. One study showed that people who have an ample supply of vitamin C may be up to 64 percent less likely to develop cataracts.8
Vitamin E can also support excellent eye health. For example, a study of more than 3,500 people showed that participants who took supplements including vitamin E were 25 percent less likely to experience eye issues that could lead to blindness.9
Foods That are Great for Eyes
Fish is one of the best foods you can eat to support healthy eyes. One of the main reasons is that many types of fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s, also known as “healthy fats,” benefit your body in several different ways. As far as eye health is concerned, omega-3s not only help eyes develop properly, they also play a role in making sure your retina stays healthy.10 The retina, located at the back of your eye, is comprised of nerve cells. These cells perceive light and send signals to your brain. It’s this communication that allows you to have sight.11
Consumption of fish, according to research, could help alleviate dryness in the eye.12
Eggs sometimes get a bad rap among health enthusiasts, because they’re associated with high cholesterol and cardiovascular damage. But eggs are actually great for eyes. Their yolks contain vitamin A and other substances that help support healthy eyes.
Eggs are not only one of the best vitamin A foods — they’re also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two substances that are known to keep your eyes in optimal health.13 Zinc, a vital mineral that is also found in eggs, can even help keep your retina strong.14
How you prepare your eggs is completely up to you. You can hard-boil them, fry them, or put them in a salad or a sandwich. And they’re not just for breakfast — eggs make a great addition to any meal because they’re so versatile.
Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and peanuts, are great for eyes as well. Many of them are high in omega-3s, as well as eye vitamins like vitamin E.15
Just like eggs, nuts are incredibly versatile. You can have them any time of the day and put them in foods like salads or cereals. Enjoy nuts in moderation, though, because they are fairly high in calories.
Carrots have long been known to be great for eye health. They’re among the most nutritious vitamin A foods, and they’re also filled with beta-carotene. This is a pigment found in carrots and many other foods that your body converts into vitamin A.16
Keeping Your Eyes Healthy
If you’re serious about maintaining your eye health, try to get an ample supply of vitamin A foods, as well as other foods that have been shown to provide benefits for eyes. But always talk to your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet, as everyone’s body is different. In addition, one of the best things you can do for your eyes is to have them examined every year or two — to make sure your eyes stay healthy.