7 Foods for Better Eye Health

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Allison Firestone on May 13, 2021
  • Close up of womans eyes
    Add Some Variety to Keep Your Vision Healthy
    We’ve all heard the old adage that eating carrots improves your vision. But you can also look to lots of other foods to keep your eyes strong and healthy. Getting eye-friendly nutrients from food—as opposed to supplements—is tasty and intelligent, as foods pack multiple nutrients, working together, into a single bite. To help keep your eyes sharp, focus on these seven foods, rich in certain vitamins and minerals known to help slow the onset of eye disease and vision loss.
  • Mashed Sweet Potato
    Mashed Sweet Potatoes
    Sweet potatoes are brimming with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that plays a key role in eye health. The body converts it to vitamin A, which helps the surface of the eye act as an effective barrier to bacteria and viruses. Just one cup of mashed sweet potatoes has almost 31 milligrams of beta-carotene—more than the same measurement of raw carrots. After boiling a cut-up sweet potato, mash it with some olive oil and vegetable stock for an eye-healthy side.
  • Oysters
    Oysters are one of the best sources of zinc, a mineral that’s essential to eye health. Zinc keeps the retina—the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of your eye—in top shape by helping vitamin A produce a protective dark pigment called melanin. Studies have linked zinc deficiency to poor night vision and cloudy cataracts. Getting your daily dose doesn’t take much: Just one medium oyster has around 13 milligrams of zinc, slightly more than the daily recommendation.
  • Mixed peppers
    Yellow Bell Peppers
    Just 10 strips of yellow bell pepper will provide your entire daily-recommended dose of Vitamin C, which numerous studies have linked to overall eye health. This nutrient supports ocular blood vessels, lowers the risk of cataracts and, along with the other nutrients in the pepper, is known to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss. Slice one up and dip it in some hummus, toss it on a salad, or sauté it with some veggies and garlic.
  • Sunflower seed with a wooden spoon
    Sunflower Seeds
    Sunflower seeds are full of vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamin C, which work together to neutralize the free radicals that break down healthy tissue. One study followed women who ate foods filled with antioxidants (like sunflower seeds), and it showed that those who consumed more of that diet had a 50% lower chance of developing cataracts. Sunflower seeds are tasty atop a salad, soup, or as a salty snack on their own.
  • Kale in a bowl
    This nutrient-rich veggie contributes to eye health in a variety of ways. The leafy green is packed with vitamins K and C, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which work together to reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases and filter out harmful wavelengths of light. Add some kale to your diet in a tasty way by blending some into a smoothie, tossing some with olive oil in a salad, or sautéing a bunch with some onions.
  • Open walnuts closeup in brown pot on sackcloth
    Walnuts are a potent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which lower your risk of aging-related vision loss. Each antioxidant-rich nut packs a nutrient punch, fighting inflammation and easing the discomfort caused by dry eyes. Keep in mind that walnuts are fat-soluble, meaning they digest better with fat, so toss some onto your salad with dressing or eat them with a little cheese to maximize their eye health benefits.
  • Salmon fish fillet with fresh herbs
    The fish we applaud for keeping our hearts healthy also reaps rewards for our eyes. Thanks to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon lowers your risk of developing eye disease and helps maintain strong retinas. One study showed that these positive effects applied even to people dealing with significant health issues—those who smoked, were overweight, or had diabetes. Since most of us take in less than the American Heart Association’s two recommended weekly servings of fish, pick some up at the market or order it next time you’re dining out.
Beyond Carrots: 7 Foods for Better Eye Health
Allison Firestone
  1. 10 Super Foods to Protect Vision. http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-01-2011/10_foods_to_help_prevent_eye_disease.h...
  2. Caring For Your Vision: Emerging Research. http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/emerging-research?s... 
  3. Caring for Your Vision: Essential Fatty Acids. http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/essential-fatty-aci...
  4. Diet: You Are What You Eat. http://www.cornea.org/index.php/hope/care_for_your_eyes 
  5. Drugs and Supplements: Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Fish Oil, Alpha-linolenic Acid. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil-alpha-linolenic-acid/dosing...
  6. Four Fantastic Foods to Keep Your Eyes Healthy. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/eye-health-news/four-fantastic-foods.cfm
  7. Top Health Benefits of Kale: The Ultimate Superfood. http://advancingyourhealth.org/highlights/2013/09/17/health-benefits-of-kale/
  8. (2001). "A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8" Arch Ophthalmol 119(10): 1417-36. https://www.nei.nih.gov/amd
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Last Review Date: 2021 May 13
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