Nov 26, 2023

The 6 Best Vitamins for Your Eye Health

Zinc is a part of many enzymes that are needed for good vision and the integrity of eye tissue, Johnson says. It's part of the AREDS2 formulation for controlling AMD and should be part of a general eye-healthy diet. You can find it in beans, lentils, seeds, meat, seafood, eggs and dairy products.

These nutrients, part of the carotenoid family of plant pigments, are found naturally in eye tissue. "They’re both in the lens and macula, which is at the dead center of your retina," says Johnson. "The macula gets a direct hit from light, and thus is vulnerable." That makes them particularly important to the prevention of AMD because lutein and zeaxanthin act like sunglasses, protecting the retina from UV damage. That makes them particularly important to the prevention of AMD.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are often found together in foods. They’re abundant in berries, broccoli, papaya, peaches, mangoes and leafy greens like Swiss chard and spinach.

The healthful fats in fish may be as helpful for your eyes as they are for your heart. Research suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids in foods or as a supplement may alleviate dry eye disease, when the eye doesn't make enough tears to lubricate it, Andreoli says. That leads to symptoms like burning, stinging and a gritty sensation. Some studies also show that people who get higher amounts of omega-3s from foods may have a lower risk of developing AMD.

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines are top sources of these healthy fats. Plant sources include flaxseed, walnuts and chia seeds, and flaxseed, soybean and canola oils.

Flaxseed oil did the trick for Santa Barbara, California, resident Barry Maher, 65, who started taking it after developing dry eye in his 40s. "The dry eye started getting better almost immediately and soon vanished altogether," he says. "Since then, the only time I’ve had a problem with dry eye was when I stopped taking it." 

Beth Howard is a North Carolina–based health and lifestyle writer. She has written for dozens of publications, including U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Prevention, Better Homes & Gardens and Reader's Digest.

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