Foods to protect & improve your vision!

Foods rich in vitamins A, C, E, along with zinc, carotenoids, and healthy fats may protect and improve good vision. Other foods, like goji berries, ginkgo biloba, saffron, and cruciferous vegetables may have beneficial effects on eyesight as well.

What food can improve eyesight naturally?

We should consume food rich in:

  • vitamin A,
  • vitamin C,
  • vitamin E,
  • zinc,
  • carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Lutein & zeaxanthin for good vision

Lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful carotenoids. They have potent antioxidant properties.

Many studies have been conducted for these nutrients and their importance on vision. Most noteworthy, lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids found in the lens (16, 17). Also, they are found in the retina of the eye. Furthermore, lutein and zeaxanthin protect the macula by improving pigment density in the retina.

Also, they absorb ultraviolet and blue light. Finally, they can protect against macular degeneration (6).

Hence, we should eat plenty of foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin in order to protect our vision.

Foods rich in vitamin A are good for eyesight

Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient. Our bodies can’t synthesize it. Therefore, we have to get it from food.

Vitamin A is essential for many physiological processes, such as maintaining the integrity and function of all surface tissues (epithelia), like the eye.

Moreover, vitamin A is essential for vision under conditions of poor lighting (3).

Vitamin A is important for maintaining your eyes’ light-sensing cells, known as photoreceptors.

Some evidence shows that dietary antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E may help prevent the progression of macular degeneration along with overall good eyesight (2).

There are two main sources of vitamin A. Animal and plant sources.

There are two forms of vitamin A:

  • preformed vitamin A (retinol and retinyl ester), which it’s derived from animal sources.
  • provitamin A (beta-carotenoid), which it’s derived from colorful fruits and vegetables.

Good animal-derived sources of vitamin A are the liver, egg yolk, and dairy (milk, cheese, butter). Meat isn’t a good source of vitamin A (3).

The liver is particularly high in vitamin A. It contains more vitamin A than the maximum safe dose!

Plant-based sources contain vitamin A in the form of carotenoids. Carotenoids are yellow, orange, green and red organic pigments of plants and algae (4).

Dark leafy vegetables are among the richest foods in carotenoids. Actually, peppers, carrots, squash, turnip greens, peas, spinach, collard greens, sweet potatoes, dill weed, cress, beet greens, kale, cabbage, amaranth leaves, broccoli, arugula, and brussels sprouts are good for your vision!

Vitamin A (IU)
per 100g
Peppers, pasilla,
dried
35,760
Carrots, raw16,706
Apricots,
dehydrated
12,669
Squash, winter11,155
Turnip greens10,765
Spinach, raw9,377
Collards9,183
Sweet potato9,169
Pokeberry shoots8,700
Spices, marjoram, dried8,068
Dill weed, fresh7,718
Cress6,917
Beet greens6,326
Source: USDA

Spices, such as marjoram, bay leaf, savory, tarragon, and thyme, are particularly rich in vitamin A as well.

Many fruits can protect your vision, as they also contain adequate amounts of carotenoids.

Apricots, mangoes, papayas, cherries, peaches, oranges, olives, grapefruits, gooseberries, black and red currants, figs, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, and apples are great dietary sources.

Vitamin A (IU)
per 100g
Apricots,
dehydrated
12,669
Persimmons,
Japanese
1,627
Passion-fruit,
purple
1,272
Grapefruit1,150
Plantains,
yellow
1,127
Mangos1,082
Papayas950
Cherries, red870
Groundcherries720
Tangerines, or
mandarin oranges
681
Peaches532
Orange peel420
Rowal383
Olives330
Gooseberries290
Orange juice264
Source: USDA

Other foods for good vision

Moreover, goji berries, ginkgo biloba, saffron, healthy fats, and cruciferous vegetables (sulforaphane) support good eyesight.

In addition, moringa powder is a superfood for eye health. It’s the richest food in carotenoids, which play a key role in eye health. Furthermore, moringa powder is rich in vitamins C and E, which have potent antioxidant properties.

Goji berries are rich in antioxidants. They contain zeaxanthin, which is important for the good function of retina.

Ginkgo biloba may protect our vision as well. Its extract can act as an antioxidant. It may protect the eye during light exposure (18,19).

Saffron is a spice, mostly used for its aroma and wonderful deep red color. However, researchers found that saffron may protect photoreceptors from retinal stress, maintaining both its morphology and function.

Furthermore, you should consume healthy fats (seeds, nuts, olive oil) because they improve the absorption of carotenoids.

Foods rich in omega-3s can protect your vision as well. Fish oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are the best dietary sources.

Last, but not least, you should consume cruciferous vegetables in order to improve eyesight. They’re particularly rich in sulforaphane. This compound is very promising for improving eyesight (11).

Common cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, watercress, cabbage, arugula, cauliflower, collard greens, and turnip greens.

What food should you avoid?

As a rule of thumb, avoid foods with a high Glycemic Index and foods high in saturated and trans fatty acids.

Food with a high Glycemic Index may be harmful to your vision. Especially to early age-related macular degeneration (13).

A diet high in poor vegetable oils increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as well.

On the contrary, healthy fats (omega-3s) may lower the risk of AMD.

In addition, too much salt may be bad for your vision. It may cause high blood pressure, which may impact your eyesight. Blood vessels in the retina can be damaged.

Foods rich in vitamins C, E & zinc are good for eyesight

Vitamin C protects the eye health. It has potent antioxidant actions. The best sources of vitamin C are vegetables and fruits. It’s easy to consume more than the daily recommended vitamin C intake.         

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. It’s important for eye health as well. Common foods rich in vitamin E are sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts.

In addition, the most important mineral for good eyesight is zinc. Eyes contain high levels of zinc. Actually, zinc is involved in the formation of visual pigments in the retina. Common foods high in zinc are sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, mustard seeds, sunflower seeds, lentils, chickpeas, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and cashew nuts (12).

Always drink plenty of water. Water hydrates the eye. It lubricates and cleans it.

Sources:

  1. National Institutes Of Health (NIH): National Eye Institute (NEI) – Healthy Vision Tips
  2. Harvard Health Letter: Top foods to help protect your vision
  3. International Center of Eye Health: What is vitamin A and why do we need it?
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotenoid
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482362/
  6. Macular pigment and risk for age-related macular degeneration in subjects from a Northern European population.
  7. The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide.
  8. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release Basic Report: 09110, Goji berries, dried
  9. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release Basic Report: 01125, Egg, yolk, raw, fresh
  10. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release Basic Report: 11124, Carrots, raw
  11. Sulforaphane can protect lens cells against oxidative stress: implications for cataract prevention.
  12. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release Nutrient Lists: Zinc
  13. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Dietary glycemic index and carbohydrate in relation to early age-related macular degeneration
  14. Harvard Health Publishing – Glycemic index for 60+ foods
  15. National Institutes of Health – Dietary fat and risk for advanced age-related macular degeneration.
  16. 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.
  17. Lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation reduces H2O2-induced oxidative damage in human lens epithelial cells.
  18. Retinal Light Damage: Mechanisms and Protection
  19. Functional protection of photoreceptors from light-induced damage by dimethylthiourea and Ginkgo biloba extract.
  20. Saffron supplement maintains morphology and function after exposure to damaging light in mammalian retina.

All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.