Certain vitamins are essential for maintaining good eye health. Many are powerful antioxidants that protect the eyes and other parts of the body from oxidative damage and inflammation.
Deficiencies in particular vitamins can increase the risk of some eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Research suggests that some vitamin and mineral supplements may help protect against or slow the development of these conditions.
1. Vitamin A and Beta Carotene
Vitamin A is essential for good vision. It is a component of the protein rhodopsin, which allows the eye to see in low-light conditions. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a deficiency in vitamin A can lead to night blindness.
Beta carotene is the primary source of vitamin A in the human diet. Beta carotene is a type of plant pigment called a carotenoid that exists in many colorful fruits and vegetables. When a person consumes carotenoids, their body converts the pigments into vitamin A.
2. Vitamin E
Alpha-tocopherol is a form of vitamin E that has particularly powerful antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which damage tissues throughout the body. Sometimes, free radicals may damage proteins within the eye. This damage can result in the development of cloudy areas called cataracts on the lens of the eye.
A 2014 review looked at studies linking vitamin E to the prevention of cataracts. Some of the research found that lens clarity was better in people who took vitamin E supplements.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that helps protect against oxidative damage.
Oxidative damage is a key factor in two of the most common age-related cataracts: cortical and nuclear cataracts. Cortical cataracts develop on the edges of the lens, while nuclear cataracts occur deep in its center or “nucleus.”
4. B vitamins
A 2009 study suggests that daily supplementation with a combination of vitamins B-6, B-9, and B-12 may reduce the risk of AMD. AMD is a degenerative eye disease that affects the vision.
A 2018 nationwide study in South Korea found a link between reduced intake of vitamin B-3, or niacin, and glaucoma. In people with glaucoma, a buildup of fluid within the eye puts pressure on the optic nerve. Over time, this can damage the nerve, resulting in vision loss.