Nutrition & Your Eye Health

March is the month to celebrate nutrition and learn more about making informed food choices that support both your general health and your vision. You may be surprised to learn that making healthier food choices is easier than you think! Luckily, the same foods and nutrients necessary for your overall health also have great benefits for your eyes. The benefits can range from maintaining eye function to potentially preventing or delaying the onset of certain ocular diseases. For National Nutrition Month, let’s see how many of these eye-healthy foods and nutrients we can incorporate into our daily lives.

Nutrients for Optimal Eye Health

Vitamin A

Vitamin A supports your eyes in many ways. It is essential for your retina and holds the responsibility of maintaining the photo receptors in your eyes—the part of your eye which turns light rays into images. A vitamin A deficiency can impact light sensitivity and could even lead to dry eye or blindness.

Where to Find Vitamin A

Although Vitamin A is only found in animal-derived foods such as liver, eggs, and dairy, you can still obtain Vitamin A from plant-based foods like carrots, kale, and spinach when your body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A. This is where the age-old claim that “carrots are good for your eyes” comes from and it still rings true! Vitamin A can be sourced from other orange fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and apricots.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are carotenoid antioxidants which protect the macula, the part of the eye which gives us our most detailed vision. They also help protect your eyes from harmful blue light.

Where to Find Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Some of the foods already mentioned are great sources of lutein and zeaxanthin such as eggs, spinach, and kale. Egg yolks in particular are among one of the best sources since they contain carotenoid antioxidants and high levels of healthy fats. Carotenoids are best consumed with healthy fats (e.g. avocados or olive oil) to improve absorption. Other good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include parsley, pistachios, green peas, and swiss chard.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Fatty Acids have become a common buzzword in the health community due to their demonstrated benefits for both whole body and eye health. Known as one of the two essential fatty acids necessary for good health, research suggests that omega-3’s may support dry eye symptoms by improving tear function. Research also suggests it can help prevent eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy.

Where to Find Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids come from cold water fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, or halibut. Other plant-based sources include walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.

Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)

Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) is an anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid representing the second essential fatty acid necessary for good health. Most chronic disease existing today involves some type of inflammation in the body. Inflammation contributes to eye diseases such as dry eye disease (DED) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Research shows that gamma-linolenic acid may be beneficial for helping with dry eye symptoms.

Where to Find Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)

GLA can be found in botanical seed oils such as evening primrose, borage, and black currant seed oil.

Vitamin C

Next up is Vitamin C, an undeniable part of overall health and wellness. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which protects our bodies from damage and helps grow new cell tissue. The aqueous humor of your eye contains the highest concentration of vitamin C within the body. There, the levels of vitamin C are directly proportional to dietary intake, which is why consuming enough vitamin C is so important for optimal eye health. Plus, antioxidants like vitamin C can potentially prevent or delay the onset of diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.

Where to Find Vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in an abundance of fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits, bell peppers, guava, kale, broccoli, peaches, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Vitamin E

Another important antioxidant, Vitamin E, helps keep our cells healthy and protects fatty acids from damage due to oxidation. Our retina contains high concentrations of fatty acids, which makes vitamin E another essential part of optimal eye health.

Where to Find Vitamin E

Vitamin E can be found in avocados, almonds, sunflower seeds, and flaxseed oil.


Zinc is a mineral which helps protect your eyes from harmful light. Research suggests it may contribute to visual sharpness and pigmentation by helping to keep your retina healthy.

Where to Find Zinc

Beans are a great source of zinc, including black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and lima beans. Other valuable sources of zinc include oysters, lean red meat, poultry, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts.

Food As Your Medicine

While the above nutrients can easily be found in supplement form, food is often your best medicine when it comes to getting the nutrients your eyes love. Those with a diagnosed medical condition or eye disease should always discuss diet with their ophthalmologist or optometrist. In some cases, supplements may be recommended as an effective approach to optimal nutrition.

With all the delicious options mentioned above, you can prepare entire meals for you and your family to support your vision and overall health. For the next month, see how many eye-healthy ingredients you can incorporate into your daily meals for National Nutrition Month!