Do Eye Vitamins Really Help?

Medically Reviewed on 10/25/2021
eye for vitamin
Most eye health vitamins and supplements are meant for those suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Most individuals do not require eye vitamins or supplements. These supplements mainly benefit people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) because they help slow down the disease progression.

Though some studies suggest taking vitamins or supplements may benefit patients with other various eye disorders, such as retinal damage, dry eyes, and cataracts, the evidence for these claims is insufficient. Taking a high concentration of vitamins may slow down the process of a particular disease but may not be able to prevent it, especially if it is age-related.

Most eye experts advise that it is best to get your vitamins from your diet. Supplements are prescribed only when there is a known dietary deficiency or high risk of developing any eye disease.

7 supplements that protect and improve eye health

Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements that protect eye health include:

  1. Vitamin A
    • Vitamin A is essential for eyesight because it keeps the cornea or the transparent outer layer of the eye healthy and prevents dry eyes.
    • Vitamin A is the main component in the light-sensitive cells (rods) in the retina that helps see in dim light.
    • Studies suggest that a high-dose vitamin A diet may decrease the incidence of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in certain people. 
    • Orange-yellow fruits such as squash, bell peppers, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, green vegetables, and peaches are good sources of vitamin A.
  2. Vitamin C
    • Vitamin C is an antioxidant that prevents cellular damage in the eye.
    • Studies suggested that vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts. It may also slow down the process of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and vision loss when taken with other nutrients.
    • Vitamin C is present abundantly in oranges, kiwis, strawberries, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, green peppers, and tomatoes.
  3. Vitamin E
    • Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the eye cells from free radicals, which are unstable chemicals that damage cells.
    • Vegetable oils (particularly safflower and maize oil), almonds, wheat germ, and sweet potatoes are good sources of vitamin E.
  4. Lutein and zeaxanthin
    • Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids with anti-inflammatory properties, which are present in the macula and retina of the eye.
    • Studies suggest that these carotenoids reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases.
    • This helps protect the eye from sunlight, prevent light-induced damage to the eye, and lower the risk of developing cataracts.
    • These are found abundantly in dark green vegetables, orange and yellow fruits, broccoli, corn, peas, spinach, kale, pepper, zucchini, squash, maize, peas, persimmons, tangerines, kiwi fruit, grapes, and egg yolk.
  5. Zinc
    • Zinc carries vitamin A from the liver to the retina and helps the vitamin create melanin, an eye-protective pigment.
    • Zinc deficiency has been linked to vision issues, such as blurry night vision and hazy cataracts.
    • Zinc may be found naturally in red meat, oysters, shellfish, nuts, and seeds.
  6. Omega-3 fatty acid
    • Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the development of good vision and retinal function.
    • Studies suggest that dietary omega-3 fatty acids help develop normal vision, reduce inflammation, and heal and regenerate retinal cells that were damaged from light exposure and aging.
    • Some studies state that these increase tear production and nourish the oily outer layer of the eye, as well as protect the eyes from AMD and glaucoma.
    • Salmon, tuna, other cold-water fish, walnuts, and all green leafy vegetables are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  7. Bilberry
    • Bilberry, a small berry that resembles a blueberry, is known to improve night vision.
    • However, bilberry interferes with medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and enhances their activity.
    • This results in thinning of the blood and increases bleeding during surgery.

Are there any adverse effects to taking eye supplements?

Yes. Vitamins A and E are fat-soluble vitamins. If these are ingested in excess, it may result in hypervitaminosis, which may damage the liver and cause other issues, such as headaches and skin problems. Additionally, zinc supplements may have toxic long-term effects. Therefore, a person must inform their doctor about the supplements they take.

Any vitamin or supplement may potentially interact with current medications and result in unfavorable side effects. Omega-3 fatty acids may interact with the blood thinners. Many of these supplements are downright dangerous if taken during pregnancy. It is recommended to consult a doctor before starting any supplements and check for any interactions with current ongoing medications.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/25/2021
Boyd K. Vitamins for AMD. American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Bacher R. Can Dietary Supplements Protect Your Eyes? AARP.

Buscemi S, Corleo D, Di Pace F, Petroni ML, Satriano A, Marchesini G. The Effect of Lutein on Eye and Extra-Eye Health. Nutrients. 2018;10(9):1321.