NUTRITION AND EYE

As with your general health, a poor diet can contribute to putting your sight and eye health at risk. The correct nutrition may help protect your eye from conditions such as cataract, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).


Kale and spinach are a good source of carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin . These help to form a pigment which acts as natural sun protection in the eye and may help protect against AMD. Eggs are also a good source of these nutrients. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found eating just one egg a day boosted the blood antioxidant levels significantly whilst not affecting cholesterol levels. (1)(2)

Red/orange vegetables and fruits contain beta carotene. This is in the same family of nutrients as lutein and zeaxanthin and may also have protective benefits against AMD. However, it is important not to take this in isolation if you are also a smoker.

The above foods, along with beef, chicken liver and dairy products, are also a good source of vitamin A. A deficiency in this nutrient, along with vitamin D , could lead to dry eye syndrome. Good sources of vitamin D include salmon, mackerel and egg yolk.

Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly found in fish. Studies have found a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration with consuming two portions of oily fish a week. Mackerel, salmon and anchovies are some types of oily fish. (3)

These nutrients may also be beneficial for dry eye syndrome and can also be obtained from nuts and seeds. Vitamin C may help reduce the risk of developing cataract. Cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye.The lens is surrounded by a fluid which is rich in vitamin C and researchers have observed a diet high in vitamin C appeared to be associated with a lower incidence of cataract progression. It is found in many types of fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruits, berries, mangoes, pineapples, kiwi, broccoli,sprouts and bell peppers are amongst the top sources of vitamin C. (4)

Zinc helps Vitamin A form a pigment called melanin. This could also be protective against macular degeneration. Zinc is found in high abundance in oysters (no more than two a day), hemp seeds, lentils and beef.

Do supplements help?
Only one large study has shown some supplementation to be beneficial. (1)
The Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2) concluded the below supplementation to be suitable for everyone.

  • Vitamin C (500mg)
  • Vitamin E (400IU)
  • Lutein (10mg)
  • Zeaxanthin (2mg)
  • Zinc (25mg)
  • Copper(2mg).Taken to prevent copper deficiency caused by the zinc

This is available in capsule form and taken twice daily. Research is ongoing to assess the potential benefits of other supplementation.

  1. AREDS2 Research Group. “Lutein/Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Age-Related Macular Degeneration. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA, published online May 5, 2013
  2. The Journal of Nutrition , Volume 136, Issue 10, October 2006, Pages 2519–2524
  3. ArchivesofOphthalmology.2008;126(6):826-833
  4. Christopher Hammond et al, “Genetic and Dietary Factors Influencing the Progression of Nuclear Cataract.” Ophthalmology, DOI:
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