Are eye vitamins good for you is a challenging topic for most eye doctors. The reason is because some are and some are not. So, to come out and answer a broad sweeping question like that is very challenging. Some eye vitamins have been thoroughly researched. Others just show up on the market under a weird name, sell several thousand bottles, and then disappear. I am going to answer all of your eye vitamin questions in this article. At the bottom, I will also have some Amazon links to my favorite vitamins based on the different eye conditions.
Vitamins that are important for our eyes
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Omega 3
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Those are most of the different vitamins and minerals that are utilized by the visual system to keep us seeing clearly. I am going to dive into each of those individually and discuss why they are valuable to our eyes.
Not getting enough vitamin A is rare in the US. A lack of vitamin A can cause night blindness, and this is where we begin the talk about WWII. Everyone has heard that carrots are good for your eyes and that during WWII pilots contributed their success to eating more carrots. That data has been well debunked by numerous credible sources by now. Having said that, vitamin A is found in large quantities in carrots and some studies have shown that diets high in vitamin A can reduce the symptoms of cataracts and macular degeneration. I want to pause here to mention that I chose the word “symptoms” of cataracts. I will dive more into that later in this article, but I wanted to point that out now. So, vitamin A is found in large quantities in sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, and bell peppers.
Vitamin E is very good at protecting the eye from oxidative stress. Essentially what happens is during normal operation the eye creates oxidation. This oxidation can damage the eye, but with vitamin E around it is protected from that stress. Now, vitamin E has been studied and shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration getting worse.
While that is pretty amazing for a stand alone vitamin to do that, we can pair it with things and get even better results. I will talk about that when we get to the macular degeneration section. There has also been research on vitamin E and cataracts. One research article showed a slowing effect to cataract growth, but other researchers have been unable to replicate that study’s results. So, the jury is still out on if vitamin E can help with cataracts. I personally think that it does not and I will dive into that area more when I get to the cataract section. Vitamin E is found in lots of nuts, seeds, and cooking oils.
Next, vitamin C is obviously good for our overall immune health. With the eyes being a point of entry for germs, having vitamin C around is beneficial. I am a big fan of Vitamin C, and I am not talking about the band. Now, vitamin C is similar to vitamin E in that it protects against oxidation or free radicals. This vitamin also helps with AMD or macular degeneration. Again, there are mixed studies about vitamin C and cataracts. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and broccoli.
Now the B vitamins are B6, B9, and B12. I will talk about other B vitamins solely, but I am lumping these together because they were all researched together. The way the B vitamins work for the most part in the eye is by reducing the levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid used by the body to make proteins. The B vitamins will break down that amino acid and allow your eye to use the parts properly. This much like other vitamins helps reduce the risk of AMD getting worse. Foods rich in vitamin B are salmon, leafy greens, and eggs.
Riboflavin is technically another B vitamin, but I am pulling it out on its own. I did this because Riboflavin was singled out specifically in a research article about cataracts. The study found that people who consumed 20x more riboflavin than the average person had cataracts developed at an older age. Again, I will dive more into this aspect in the cataract section below. Foods high in riboflavin include oats, beef, and fortified cereals. So, chow down on your lucky charms!
Vitamin B3 or niacin is again technically a B vitamin, but I am separating it out also for the same reason as riboflavin. Niacin or B3 is utilized to convert food into energy. There have been some studies done that show a link to low niacin amounts and glaucoma. Now, these studies have been repeatable and some studies done on animals show that high amounts of niacin helps with glaucoma. I will talk more about niacin and glaucoma in the glaucoma section below. The cautionary tale here is that research has also shown that high amounts of niacin (1.5-5 grams per day) can cause blurry vision and problems with your cornea. So, be careful with consuming high amounts of niacin. Foods high in niacin include red meat, bananas, and brown rice.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are almost always lumped together with each other. You can find lutein by itself, but most of the time they are combined. These carotenoids are beneficial for filtering out the blue light that hits the macula. There was a study done showing that lutein by itself improved vision for people with cataracts. Again, I will dive deeper into what this found and what this means in the cataract section. Lutein and zeaxanthin has been well researched and has good benefits for macular degeneration.Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include kale, spinach, and eggs.
Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation in different areas. From an eye standpoint, the inflammation reduction is around the cornea and the retina. Omega 3 research has shown that it can help with dry eyes and possibly help prevent problems from diabetes in the eye.Foods that are high in omega 3 include fish and cooking oils. That is why the caveman said fish oil good for eyes!
Thiamine is another B vitamin, B1 to be exact. It converts food into energy and helps cells function properly. Thiamine has been researched for possible benefits in cataracts with mixed results. Thiamine has also been researched to help with the early stages of diabetic related eye problems. I will dive deeper into the diabetes portion below. Foods rich in thiamine include whole grains and fish.
In the form of Zinc Oxide, this essential trace mineral is also called the “helper molecule.” Zinc plays a vital role in producing melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Impaired vision, such as poor night vision and cataracts, have been linked to zinc deficiency. Zinc was also shown to be beneficial to macular degeneration. Typically we get enough zinc in the US that this isn’t a real problem. Foods rich in zinc include meats and seafood.
In the form of Cupric Oxide, this additional trace mineral is hindered by Zinc. In order to avoid a copper deficiency, try to take 2mg of copper and a zinc supplement. Too much copper has been shown to deposit into the eyes and can happen with Wilson’s disease. Copper is almost always paired with zinc. So, for that reason some people have questioned if zinc is the reason for the positive results or is it from copper. Copper deficiency is known to cause some nerve and balance problems. Foods high in copper include nuts and mushrooms.
Eye Vitamins for kids
So, the first specific eye vitamin I want to cover is the eye vitamins for kids. In order to find my favorite one here I wanted to look at not just the ingredients, but the company as a whole. As a dad of 3 kids, I really want to make sure I am getting and giving them the safest products. As an eye doctor I want to make sure kids are getting lutein, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin A. The other vitamins and minerals are not too high on my list as an eye doctor. So, the eye vitamins for kids I recommend can be found at this link to Amazon.
Eye Vitamins for Glaucoma
Now, when it comes to eye vitamins for glaucoma I am a little disappointed with the options on the market. For the most part none of them focus or utilize much niacin and again niacin was shown to help with glaucoma. The reason for this lack of niacin is related to the fact that too much niacin can be problematic for other parts of the eye. In fact, too much niacin was shown to cause blurry vision, which is not what any eye doctor wants to have happen. For these reasons the eye vitamins for glaucoma I recommend can be found at this Amazon link. Now remember, this vitamin will not cure glaucoma. Please stay on your glaucoma medications and follow your eye doctor’s instructions. This vitamin is merely meant as an extra support to help.
Eye Vitamins for Cataracts
Eye vitamins for cataracts is a challenging one for me to get behind. I see quite a few advertisements on social media platforms suggesting people take vitamin x, y, or z to fix their cataracts. I know quite a few of the B vitamins were shown in some research to have beneficial results in the cataract realm, but they can’t be duplicated. Lutein was also shown to be beneficial after 15mg three times a week for 2 years. With most supplements and vitamins it takes years to show any improvements and the follow up questions that I have are was it really improving the cataracts or did the vitamin or mineral help a different aspect of the eye.
The reason I have a hard time getting behind a vitamin for cataracts is that the lens inside our eye that becomes a cataract does not have a blood supply. Therefore, the vitamin or mineral must be in a high enough concentration that it just happens to drift into that area to help. Also, most of the “cataract helping” vitamins contain things in them that help other areas such as omega and dry eyes, or lutein and macular health. For these reasons the vitamin I would encourage for cataracts is mainly an overall eye health vitamin. Here is the link to it on Amazon. But again, I do not think any eye vitamin truly helps cataracts and that is why my father had cataract surgery and I did not tell him to just take some eye vitamins.
Eye vitamins after lasik
When it comes to eye vitamins after lasik the key here is dry eyes. We know that lasik can lead to dryer eyes. So, the omegas that are helpful for the dry eyes are the key here. The cornea is the area affected with lasik and so I wanted to pay attention to things that help the cornea heal like vitamin C. So, the thing I looked at when picking my eye vitamin after lasik was all about cornea health. The one I like best can be found here on Amazon. It doesn’t contain any vitamin C, but most people are taking a vitamin C supplement currently.
Eye vitamins for dry eyes
Eye vitamins for dry eyes are pretty much the exact same concept as for the eye vitamins after lasik. So, it is no surprise that I like the exact same eye vitamin for dry eyes as for lasik. Again, you can find that eye vitamin from Amazon here.
Eye vitamins after cataract surgery
When it comes to eye vitamins after cataract surgery I am mainly wanting and looking for overall ocular health. I am looking for an eye vitamin that is cost effective and has the things well researched to be helpful for the eyes. I am thinking about it being an older individual, so macular degeneration is on my mind. That is why I chose this vitamin from Amazon.
Eye vitamins for diabetes
Now, when it comes to eye vitamins for diabetes I want to make sure it has thiamine. Thiamine has been shown to decrease the amount of albumin in the urine and increased albumin in the urine has been directly correlated with diabetic eye problems. So, the key is to make sure it is not going to have an effect on blood sugar, has some thiamine, and contains other things like lutein. Thankfully, there is a good one that can be purchased through Amazon.
Eye vitamins drops
When it comes to eye vitamin drops we have some other aspects to consider and think about. An eye drop that can get rid of or help with cataracts is not really possible. This is the same thing for an eye drop to help with macular degeneration. This is because that medication can’t get to the target site in drop form.
The eye drops that help with an eye infection only help with surface eye infections. The eye drops that help with glaucoma have a target site on the front part of the eye just under the white of the eye. Same goes for dry eye drops and drops that dilate someone. If you have an infection deeper in the eye most of the time we have to prescribe an oral medication. So, for an eye vitamin drop to be beneficial or do what it is intended to do we must focus on vitamins that are helpful for the cornea. For that reason the eye vitamin drop I like can be found here.
But if you are looking for an eye drop to help with dry eyes check out this blog post instead. This is not my favorite drop for dry eyes. This is my favorite drop with eye vitamins in it.
Eye vitamins do they work
So after covering all of the vitamins and minerals above. Then going through all of the different condition specific vitamins on the market. The real question still remains. You know… Eye vitamins do they work? Now some eye vitamins do work and some do not and that is what makes it challenging for patients. You saw above how niacin, while helpful for glaucoma can be problematic for the cornea if consumed in too high of a dose. Plus, you have mixed research results. Some researchers being paid by a vitamin company can find benefits to a specific condition for that vitamin, but then no one can replicate those findings.
Can eye vitamins help eyesight
Whew we have made it almost to the end and I have saved one of the best questions for last. Can eye vitamins help eyesight? The answer is yes and no at the same time. If by eyesight you mean get rid of the need for glasses the answer is no. No drop can get rid of the need for glasses with one caveat. The new drop out called Vuity can get rid of the need for over the counter readers if you only need a low power and the drop has to be used every day. Plus, the drop won’t keep you from needing reading glasses forever. The way eye drops can help eyesight is by helping macular degeneration or dry eyes which can make things blurry.
Conclusion for are eye vitamins good for you
So, we started this article off by asking the question are eye vitamins good for you. The answer is yes, but they will not replace the need to see an eye doctor for disease and they are not capable of doing things that modern medicine can do. As an Amazon associate I earn a commisson on qulaifying purchases. Thank you for reading and learning are eye vitamins good for you.