Best Foods For Your Eyes

  • Maria Conte Master's degree, Human Nutrition, Università San Raffaele, Italy
  • Ellie Kerrod BSc Neuroscience - The University of Manchester, England


In our fast-paced lives, we often overlook the importance of taking care of our eyes, which are an essential part of our body that helps us experience the beauty of the world. 

Which is the best way to maintain healthy eyes? We have different tools and our daily diet is one of those. In this article, we will explore the role of nutrition on eye health, and you will discover the best foods for your eyes. 

Importance of eye health

Every aspect of our lives is impacted by vision, which is the most powerful sense in our bodies. The importance of eye health has been outlined by the Commission on Global Eye Health, which defines eye health as “maximized vision, ocular health, and functional ability, thereby contributing to overall health and wellbeing, social inclusion, and quality of life”.1Vision loss can affect people at any age, although the prevalence of vision impairment increases with age.2 According to the WHO, the leading causes of vision impairment and blindness are:

  • refractive errors
  • cataract
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • glaucoma
  • age-related macular degeneration

Early detection and timely management are key to avoiding the majority of the causes of vision impairment. Studies have uncovered treatments aimed at diminishing or eradicating blindness stemming from all these conditions.2 Prevention is indeed crucial to maintain healthy eyes and among other tips to prevent vision loss, eating right can help you to protect your sight.

Nutrients for Eye Health

Oxidative damage is involved in the development of degenerative eye diseases. Free radicals, which are molecules that damage proteins and DNA within cells, are abundant in the retina, especially in the macula.3

One of the reasons is that the ocular surface is constantly exposed to sunlight, which has wavelengths that include ultraviolet light, a well-known cause of oxidative stress.4

Several key nutrients play pivotal roles in preserving and enhancing our vision and many of these are micronutrients including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which have capabilities to prevent this oxidative damage, or compounds with anti-inflammatory properties like omega-3 fatty acids.3,4

Understanding these nutrients and where to find them is essential.

Let’s have a close look.


Vitamin A, a phrase encompassing retinol, the most biologically potent form derived from animal products, and carotenoids, precursor compounds abundant in various fruits and vegetables, fulfils multiple functions within the human body. It is necessary for the health of mucosal tissues, bone metabolism, reproduction, immune health, and retinal function. 

Specifically, vitamin A plays a vital role in the metabolism, growth, and differentiation of the epithelial cells covering the surface of the eye.4

Vitamin C, commonly referred to as ascorbic acid, serves as an antioxidant safeguarding proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids against harm resulting from free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). For its antioxidant properties, it is beneficial to the eye and helps to prevent eye-related diseases.3 

Vitamin E is a term defining a class of compounds. It exists in four common forms in nature, namely, α-tocopherol, β-tocopherol, δ-tocopherol, and γ-tocopherol. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and protects the eyes from free radicals damage.3

Vitamin D plays many functions in the body. At the eye level, it enhances corneal epithelial barrier functions by regulating cellular proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis (programmed cell death). Vitamin D modulates calcium absorption, so it has a crucial role in maintaining fluid secretion in lacrimal glands.4


Anthocyanins, red–purple pigments found in plants, are strong antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. They are shown to promote the regeneration and synthesis of rhodopsin, the primary photoreceptor molecule of vision, to protect the retina from overexposure to visible light and irradiation, and also to enhance vision and augment the blood flow to the retina.3

Lutein and zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoid pigments classified within the xanthophyll subclass, are plentiful in the retina, particularly in the macula, where they form what is known as the macular pigment. These compounds act as a filter, protecting the macula from free radicals and absorbing harmful blue light (also coming from our digital devices!). These nutrients must be obtained from the diet since the human body is not able to synthesize them.3,5 


Zinc is essential for various physiological processes including immunity, reproduction, and neuronal development and it is a cofactor of many metabolically active enzymes within the eye.3

Selenium is a well-known antioxidative agent and is incorporated in a small cluster of proteins (so-called selenoprotein), playing a critical role in living organisms. One of these proteins, glutathione peroxidases, protects cells from oxidative stress, and it is widely distributed in several tissues, including the ocular surface.3,4

Omega-3 fatty acids 

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (FAs) are defined as “essential fats” since the body can’t synthesize them and must get them from the food. 

They serve as essential constituents of cell membranes and play a crucial role in synthesizing various biologically active compounds. Omega-3 fatty acids exhibit anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, and antihypertensive attributes. They also regulate lipid metabolism, glucose tolerance, and central nervous system functions.4

The anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3, along with a possible neuroprotective action of corneal nerves, make them potentially beneficial for eye health.5

Best foods for your eyes

Now that we've outlined the primary nutrients essential for eye health, let's explore their sources, discovering the optimal foods to safeguard and improve your vision.

It is well-known that eating a balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health. Moreover, managing a healthy weight and stable blood sugar levels can mitigate the likelihood of developing diabetes and other systemic ailments that may contribute to vision impairment, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma.

To provide your eyes with all the nutrients they need, make sure to incorporate these eye-healthy foods into your daily diet.

Table 1 - Best food with eye-healthy nutrients

Vitamin A sourcesCarrotsRed peppersSpinachSweet potatoesMangosApricotsRicotta cheese (part-skim)
Vitamin C sourcesCitrus fruitsStrawberriesKiwiBell peppersBroccoli
Vitamin E-rich foodsAlmondsAvocadosSunflower seedsSpinachWheat germ
Anthocyanins-rich foods Blueberry BilberryBlackcurrantStrawberryWolfberry 
Lutein and zeaxanthin sourcesBroccoliKaleBrussels sproutsCorn, EggsSpinachSquashPapayas
Zinc-containing foodsChickpeasPumpkin seedsYogurt
Selenium-containing foodsFishSeafood Cereals 
Omega-3 fatty acid sourcesFatty fish (salmon, mackerel, trout)Chia seedsWalnuts

Can I take supplements to get all these eye-healthy nutrients? 

Antioxidants are most beneficial when consumed organically from fruits and vegetables and other whole foods so eating the right food is the best way to get eye-healthy nutrients.

It is important to acknowledge that antioxidants could also pose potential adverse health effects and the right dose in dietary intake is key.3

Before taking any supplement, talk with your doctor to learn if it is recommended for you.

Meal planning for eye health

Maintaining a diet that promotes eye health is easier than you might think. Here are some sample meal ideas to get you started:

  • Breakfast: a good option is an oatmeal topped with fresh strawberries and almonds or a spinach and feta omelet with a side of orange slices if you prefer savory food.
  • Lunch: try a quinoa and chickpea salad with bell peppers and a lemon vinaigrette or a turkey and avocado whole-grain wrap with a side of carrot sticks.
  • Snack: a handful of mixed nuts and dried apricots or Greek yogurt with blueberries and a sprinkle of chia seeds.
  • Dinner: baked salmon with a drizzle of olive oil, served with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli, or stir-fried tofu with kale and brown rice as a plant-based option. 


Eyes are our window to the world and it is important to take care of them daily. Oxidative stress, bad habits, and aging, among other factors, can increase the risk of eye-related diseases. 

Prevention is crucial, and integrating eye-friendly foods into your daily meals offers a straightforward yet powerful method to uphold and improve your vision.

Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish will provide your eyes with the essential nutrients they need, so you can enjoy a lifetime of clear and vibrant sight. 

Remember, your eyes are worth the investment in nutritious foods that support their health and longevity.


What food is good for your eyes?

Including foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish in your diet provides ample antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, promoting eye health and aiding in the preservation and improvement of vision.

Which fruits are best for eyesight?

  • Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit.
  • Strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, and blueberries, are rich in antioxidants that prevent dryness, lower blood pressure, vision defects, and macular degeneration.
  • Banana is a source of vitamin A, crucial for eye health, and potassium, one of the components involved in the tear film.
  • Mango and papaya contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, two key nutrients to support healthy eyes.
  • Apricots contain vitamins A, C, and E and carotenoids, all beneficial to fight oxidative damage to the eyes. 

How can I improve my eyesight naturally?

There are many things you can do to improve your eyesight:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and fish
  • Exercise regularly
  • Quit smoking
  • Wear protective eyewear when required (yard work, sports, or home repairs).
  • Give your eyes a rest, especially when using digital devices for a long period.

How can I strengthen my eyes?

To strengthen your eyes and maintain good eye health, you can follow these practices:

  1. Maintain a well-rounded diet to promote overall eye wellness.
  2. Incorporate routine eye exercises to enhance vision and alleviate eye tension.
  3. Prioritize eye cleanliness by washing hands before handling contact lenses or touching the eyes to prevent infections and discomfort.
  4. Manage screen exposure by taking frequent breaks from digital devices to alleviate eye strain and avoid fatigue.
  5. Arrange regular eye check-ups to monitor eye health and promptly address any concerns.
  6. Use appropriate eye protection during activities that pose potential risks to eye safety.


  • Burton MJ, Ramke J, Marques AP, Bourne RRA, Congdon N, Jones I, et al. The Lancet Global Health Commission on global eye health: vision beyond 2020. Lancet Glob Health [Internet]. 16 february 2021 [cited 14 september 2023];9(4):e489–551. Available at:
  • Causes of blindness and vision impairment in 2020 and trends over 30 years, and prevalence of avoidable blindness concerning VISION 2020: the Right to Sight: an analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet Glob Health [Internet]. 1 December 2020 [cited 14 September 2023];9(2):e144–60. Available at:
  • Khoo HE, Ng HS, Yap WS, Goh HJH, Yim HS. Nutrients for prevention of macular degeneration and eye-related diseases. Antioxidants (Basel) [Internet]. 2 April 2019 [cited 14 September 2023];8(4):85. Available at:
  • Pellegrini M, Senni C, Bernabei F, Cicero AFG, Vagge A, Maestri A, et al. The role of nutrition and nutritional supplements in ocular surface diseases. Nutrients [Internet]. 30 March 2020 [cited 14 September 2023];12(4):952. Available at:
  • Lem DW, Gierhart DL, Davey PG. Can nutrition play a role in ameliorating digital eye strain? Nutrients [Internet]. October 2022 [cited 14 September 2023];14(19). Available at:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Maria Conte

Master's degree, Human Nutrition, Università San Raffaele, Italy

Maria is a pharmacist with a long experience in pharmaceutical companies. Her expertise focuses in particular on drug safety and benefit-risk evaluation. She has also cultivated a strong interest in health, movement and nutrition, that led her first to a postgrad certification in "Stress. Sport and nutrition" and then to a full MSc in "Human Nutrition".
Maria has always had a passion for writing and she strongly believes that through effective communication we can improve patients’ lives and have a positive impact on the world.

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