Your eyes are capable of appreciating 7 million colors and can distinguish objects as thin as 10 millionths of a meter wide. A number of vitamins are required to help your eyes provide you with clear, healthy vision, while protecting against age- and light-related damage. Incorporate these vitamins into your diet to ensure your best and brightest vision.
Vitamin A is necessary for proper moistening of the cornea. Deficiency of vitamin A can lead to damage of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane on the surface of the eye, and ultimately to ulceration of the cornea. Vitamin A also contributes to formation of rhodopsin, the light-sensing pigment in the retina. Without sufficient vitamin A you may experience night blindness.
Carotenoids, the yellow, orange and red pigments found in plants, are vital for healthy eyes and good vision. Two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin are found in the retina and lens, where they help ward off degenerative conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin also reduce glare, help your eyes recover from exposure to intense light and improve your ability to see contrasting shades of colors. Your body converts alpha-carotene and beta-carotene into vitamin A. Experts are divided as to the benefits of supplemental forms of vitamin A and carotenoids. The best way to derive the benefits of these substances may be to get them in your diet, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Vitamins C and E
Vitamins C and E may provide antioxidant benefits that support healthy eyes and vision, according to a study published in the May 2011 issue of the journal "Progress in Retinal and Eye Research." A condition known as anterior uveitis, an inflammation of the iris, or colored portion of the eye may respond well to treatment with these vitamins. High concentrations of vitamins C and E are also found in the retina, where they serve to prevent light-related oxidative damage. Deficiency of vitamin E may make you more susceptible to detached retina, according to John D. Kirschmann, author of "Nutrition Almanac."
B-complex vitamins keep the muscles that move your eyes healthy and strong and improve light tolerance. Itching, burning, watery or bloodshot eyes may be a sign of B-complex vitamin deficiency. Diets high in vitamin B3, or niacin, are associated with lower risk for developing cataracts, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Carotenoids
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin A (Retinol)
- Progress in Retinal and Eye Research: Nutritional Influences on Visual Development and Function
- Nutrition Almanac: John D. Kirschmann and Nutrition Search, Inc.
- User's Guide to Eye Health Supplements: Learn All about the Nutritional Supplements That Can Save Your Vision: Bill Sardi
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Center for Nanotechnology Education and Utilization: Eye
Tracey Roizman, DC is a writer and speaker on natural and preventive health care and a practicing chiropractor. She also holds a B.S. in nutritional biochemistry.