Many vitamins are effective antioxidants that protect the eyes from oxidative damage and infection. Deficiencies in certain vitamins may increase the risk of developing eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.
1. Vitamin A and beta carotene
Vitamin A is essential for good vision, especially in low-light conditions.
It is an important component of rhodopsin, a protein in the eye responsible for night vision. According to AAO, deficiency in vitamin A can cause night blindness. Vitamin A also supports corneal function, where its deficiency may cause eyes to produce decreased moisture to stay lubricated.
Beta carotene on the other hand is a plant pigment that is also known as carotenoids. It is the primary source of vitamin A in the human diet. Sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, red pepper, and squash are good sources of vitamin A and beta carotene.
2. Vitamin E
Alpha tocopherol is a kind of vitamin E that has abundant antioxidant properties. Antioxidants fight tissue-damaging free radicals throughout the body. In some cases, free radicals can damage proteins in the eye causing cataracts to form. Almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, soybean oil, and asparagus are some of the good sources of vitamin E.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another important antioxidant that helps protect against cortical and nuclear cataracts. Cortical cataracts occur on the edges of the lens, while nuclear cataracts develop deep in the center or “nucleus.”
Good sources of vitamin C are oranges, grapefruits, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
3 Other Nutrients for Eye Health
Aside from the vitamins mentioned above, some nutrients are also best for maintaining optimal health of the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin that are found mostly in green leafy vegetables take care of the retina against oxidative damage and age-related macular degeneration.
Zinc is another mineral that helps maintain the health of the retina and protein structure of the eye. Zinc enables vitamin A to reach the retina from the liver to produce melanin which protects the eyes from ultraviolet (UV) light. Vegetarians may need to increase their zinc intake because a vegetarian diet has less zinc than an omnivorous one.
Lastly, Omega-3 fatty acids help protect the retina from damage and degeneration. More particularly, omega-3 reduces the accumulation of fatty deposits in the blood vessels, as well as those that supply blood to the retina. Omega-3 found in sardines, tuna, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds is also believed to lower the risk of dry eye syndrome.