Eye Vitamins - Nutrition for Your Eyes


It is estimated that more than two million people in the UK have sight loss that is severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives[1].

Smoking is one lifestyle habit that increases a person's risk of eye disease [2]. Of people suffering sight loss, around 40% could have their vision improved by wearing correctly prescribed spectacles or contact lenses. The rest are suffering from conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Diminishing eyesight might seem like an unavoidable consequence of getting older, but with the right diet, certain nutritional supplements and lifestyle changes, you can hold on to accurate vision for longer than you think.

Key eye vitamins

Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)

Carrots are rich sources of vitamin A and beta carotene. One of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness [3], as the vitamin is needed to synthesise a pigment in the eye that operates in low-light conditions.

Vitamin A has been studied and shown to prevent degenerative eye conditions, such as cataracts and macular degeneration [4].

Vitamin C

Vitamin C which is high in many fruits and vegetables has a protective effect when it comes to eye health. It helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including collagen, found in the cornea of the eye.

Supplementing with vitamin C may help prevent diabetic retinopathy [5], which is a common eye disease for diabetics and a leading cause of adult blindness. The condition can be caused by the swelling and leaking of blood vessels on the surface of the retina.

Vitamin E

  • Vitamin E, alongside vitamins A and C, helps to protect cells in the body from the damaging effects of inflammation and so keeps eye tissue strong and healthy.

    Vitamin E has been shown to reduce the risk of suffering from cataracts [6], especially when supplemented alongside lutein, which is a plant nutrient that is found in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, egg yolks and orange coloured vegetables.

    Foods for eye health

    Carotenoids are nutrients that are found mostly in plants and provide their red, orange and yellow colours and they are also present in some fish and egg yolks. They have a significant health benefit within the body.

    Probably the best-known carotenoid is beta-carotene, the primary source of vitamin A from plants, but there are a few more that have been shown to benefit eye health and include lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin.

    Eat your greens

    Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow to orange carotenoids and is found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, yellow corn, egg yolks, squash, and carrots.

    These carotenoids are concentrated in the retinas of eyes, so they are thought to be beneficial for vision.

    The progression of macular degeneration is impaired by lutein and zeaxanthin [7].

    Include oily fish on the menu

    Oily fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, and have been shown to boost eyesight in older people [8].

    Wild salmon gets its distinctive pinky-red colour from a substance called astaxanthin, a pigment found in Krill and other crustaceans which the salmon eats. Astaxanthin is effective in reducing eye fatigue and is protective against age-related macular degeneration [9].

    Fish is another great source of zinc, which is needed for a healthy immune system and to assist in the repair of damaged tissue. Zinc has been shown to improve vision and decrease your chances of degenerative eye disease [10]. Other rich sources of zinc include meat, organ meats, nuts and seeds.

    Protect your eyes

    Besides eating the right foods and supplementing the right vitamins for eye health, there are other steps that you can take to protect your vision.

    Stop smoking

    We all know the perils of smoking, but there is evidence to suggest that smoking has a negative impact on vision and can increase the risk of eye diseases [11].

    Have regular eye examinations

    Besides assessing your vision, an optometrist will check the health of your eyes. Age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma (a loss of peripheral vision caused by pressure-related nerve damage in the eyes) are among the leading causes of loss of sight and both conditions can be slowed if caught early.

    Wear sunglasses in the bright sun

    Just as ultraviolet light will damage skin over a lifetime, it will damage the surface of the eyes. Over time, exposure to UV light from the sun will put you at a higher risk of cataracts [12], which cloud your vision.

    A combination of Inessa Wellness’ Advanced Multivitamin and Advanced Omega-3 contains the necessary nutrients to optimise vision and guard against eye disease.

    The Advanced Multivitamin contains vitamins A, C & E in highly absorbable forms, and contains significant levels of lutein and zinc.

    The Advanced Omega-3 provides premium quality fish oil and is a rich source of DHA to help optimise vision and keep eyes healthy.

  • References
  • [1] RNIB (2017) ‘The state of the nation eye health 2017: A year in review’ [Accessed 6th July, 2018]

    [2] Thornton, J. Edwards, R. Mitchell, P. et al. (2005) ‘Smoking and age-related macular degeneration: a review of association’ Eye 19;933-944.

    [3] Mares, J. La Rowe and T. Blodi, A. (2004) ‘Doctor, what vitamins should I take for my eyes?’ Arch Opthalmol 122(4);628-635.

    [4] Christen, W. Gaziano, M. and Hennekens, C. (2000) ‘Design of physicians’ health study II – a randomised trial of beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, and multivitamins in prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease and eye diseases and review of results of completed trials’ Annals of epidemiology 10(2);125-134.

  • [5] Jariyapongskul, A. Runglaroen, T. Kastsuwan, N. et al. (2007) ‘Long term effects of oral vitamin C supplementation on the endothelial dysfunction in the iris microvessels in diabetic rats’ Microvascular Research 74(1);32-38.

    [6] Christen, W. Liu, S. Glynn, R. et al. (2008) ‘Dietary carotenoids, vitamins C and E, and risk of cataracts in women: a prospective study’ Arch Opthalmol 126(1);102-109. 

    [7] Richer, S. Stiles, W. Slatkute, L. et al. (2004) ‘Double masked, placebo controlled, randomised trial of lutein and antioxidant supplementation in the intervention of age-related macular degeneration: The Veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplement Trial)’ Optometry 75(4);216-229.

    [8] Slough, C. Downey, L. Silber, B. et al. (2012) ‘The effects of 90-day supplementation with the omega-3 essential fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on cognitive function and visual acuity in healthy aging population’ Neurobiology of aging 33(4);824e1-824e3.

    [9] Li, Z. Dong, X. Chen, X. et al. (2013) ‘Astaxanthin protects ARPE-19 cells from oxidative stress via up-regulation of Nrf2-regulated phase II enzymes through activation of P13K/Akt’ Molecular Vision 19;1656-1666.

    [10] Age-Related Disease Study Research Group (2006) ‘A randomised, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamin C and E, beta-carotene and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss’ Arch Ophthalmol 119(10);1417-1436.

    [11] Klein, R. Lee, K. Gangnon, R. et al. (2014) ‘Relation of smoking, drinking and physical activity to changes in vision over a 20-year period: The beaver dam eye study’ Ophthalmology 121(6);1220-1228.

    [12] Varssano, D. Friedman, M. Goldstein, M. et al. (2017) ‘Associations between cataract and keratinocytic skin cancers or melanoma: Speculating on the common role of sun and ultraviolet radiation exposure’ Ophthalmic Epidemiology 24(5);336-340.

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