If you’re looking to start seeing better, you might consider turning to glasses, contact lenses and corrective surgery — the most common methods people use to improve their vision. But what about vitamins? Your body needs vitamins to function properly, and they provide many different health benefits while improving the way your body works.
Vitamins are so essential for your body that not getting them in the right amounts can cause you to develop a variety of health issues — including problems with your eyes. But by getting the recommended dietary intake of essential vitamins, you can reduce your risk of developing eye problems and even improve your eyesight in the process. These vitamins are some of the most important for maintaining your vision and overall eye health.
Vitamin A, a well-known vitamin, is essential for keeping your retinas working properly. Your retina is the part of your eye that creates an image and converts it to nerve signals that travel to your brain. Inside your retina are four different photopigments (proteins that absorb light) that play a role in your eyesight. These photopigments store vitamin A compounds. Decreasing your vitamin A intake can negatively affect these photopigments — and, in turn, your retinas.
Rhodopsin is one of the four photopigments in your retinas. It’s responsible for detecting small amounts of light entering your eyes. This means rhodopsin plays a vital role in your vision at night or when you’re in spaces with low lighting. Increasing your vitamin A intake can improve your night vision and your eyes’ ability to function in low-light conditions. But it’s necessary to talk to your doctor before taking vitamin A, as too much vitamin A can also have negative effects on your health.
Foods that contain a high amount of vitamin A include, but are not limited to:
You might recognize vitamin C for its immune-boosting capabilities, but you might not know about its ability to improve eyesight. Studies have shown that a healthy intake of vitamin C can help reduce the risk of forming cataracts. Additionally, it combats a decrease in vision due to aging — a condition known as macular degeneration.
Your cornea, which is the clear cover on the front of your eye, benefits from a healthy vitamin C intake. A deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to corneal ulcers and may result in blindness. Vitamin C is also essential for keeping the tiny blood vessels in your retinas healthy.
Foods that contain a significant amount of vitamin C include, but are not limited to:
Vitamin E is known for its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are essential for fighting harmful, free radical compounds in your body that are responsible for speeding up the aging process and causing numerous ailments like cancer and heart disease. Research has also shown that our eyes can benefit when we regularly get vitamin E from our diets. In addition, similarly to vitamin C, vitamin E has been linked to a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration in several studies.
Foods that contain a high amount of vitamin E include, but are not limited to:
- Sunflower seeds
- Leafy green vegetables
Several vitamins in the B vitamin group are beneficial to your eyes and work to improve eyesight. These include the following:
- Vitamin B2 is beneficial to your corneas when you use eye drops that contain it. A vitamin B2 deficiency can lead to impaired vision along with red, burning eyes.
- Vitamin B6 can prevent macular degeneration when you take it together with vitamin B12. Vitamin B6 also helps your body absorb magnesium, which your eyes need to make tears.
- Studies have shown that vitamin B12 can help prevent macular degeneration when you take it with vitamin B6. Vitamin B12 may also help prevent glaucoma, which is the loss of peripheral vision due to damage in your optic nerve.
Foods that contain a high amount of vitamin B include, but are not limited to:
- Yogurt (low-fat)
- Leafy green vegetables
Proper vitamin intake is essential for your eyes and can help improve your eyesight. As you age, parts of your body become fatigued, especially your eyes. Fortunately, there are several vitamins available that can help prevent vision loss as you age. These vitamins may not give you X-ray vision, but they can help improve your eyesight and keep your eyes a little healthier at the same time.
“Nutrition supplements and the eye,” via Nature.com
“Nutrients for the aging eye,” via U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
“Nutrition and Eye Health,” via U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
“The Effect of Lutein on Eye and Extra-Eye Health,” via U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
“Nutrients for Prevention of Macular Degeneration and Eye-Related Diseases,” via U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health