The role of nutrition in eye health

Published 11:42 am Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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Our eyes are responsible for allowing us to interpret the world around us. However, as we age, our eyes may become susceptible to a range of conditions that could impair vision. While there is no guaranteed method to prevent certain conditions, a growing body of research suggests that nutrition plays an integral role in maintaining eye health. In fact, the influence of nutrition on eye health is a growing area of interest for physicians, nutritionists, scientists, clinicians, and the general population.  

There are a number of key nutrients that have been shown to be of significance in maintaining eye health. Vitamin A is essential for the proper functioning of the retina, the portion of the eye responsible for transmitting visual information to the brain. This is accomplished through millions of light-sensitive cells that convert light into electrical signals to the brain. Vitamin A is necessary for the formation of a protein called rhodopsin, which allows the retina to see in dimly lit conditions. It also helps keep the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye, moist and healthy. 

Vitamin C acts as a protectant for the eye, as it helps prevent cataracts, the clouding of the lens of the eye, and protects against age-related macular degeneration. This vitamin is also necessary for the formation of collagen. 

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In addition to reducing cataract risks, vitamin E supports the immune system, helping to prevent eye infections and other eye problems. Vitamin E also produces anti-inflammatory effects to protect against other eye disorders. 

Zinc, too, protects against age-related macular degeneration and reduces cataract risks. Dietary zinc is crucial for wound healing and helping to prevent eye infections, and is actually found in high concentrations within the retina. 

Lutein and zeaxanthin are fat-soluble compounds that are crucial for maintaining the health of the part of the retina responsible for central vision. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in many functions throughout the body, including brain performance, heart health, and immune system function. Studies demonstrate that consuming omega-3s may help support the health and function of the retina. Also, these fatty acids have been found to reduce the risk of certain eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome.

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in establishing and maintaining eye health. Various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients either taken in supplement form or obtained through a well-balanced diet help protect the eyes from numerous diseases and vision problems. Overall, a healthful diet, and proper supplementation, combined with regular eye exams and proper eye care can help ensure healthy vision. 


Here are a few eye facts, you might not know. 

  • The human eye can distinguish about 10 million different colors. 
  • Two brown-eyed parents can produce a blue-eyed child, but two blue-eyed parents can not produce a brown-eyed child. There is no genetic makeup for green eye color. 
  • The human eye is composed of more than 2 million working parts. The retina contains more than 120 million rods and cones. Cones interpret color and rods respond to light. 
  • The human eye can actually detect the light from a candle flame up to 17 miles away, on a dark, clear night. 
  • The cornea is the only part of the body that doesn’t contain blood vessels. If it did, you’d always see pink. 
  • Your eyes can move up to 100,000 times a day. 
  • Humans and dogs have a white part of the eye, known as the sclera. In humans and dogs, the whole sclera is white, but most mammals have a sclera that is dark at the front or colored to match the iris. In fact, the iris helps control the size of the pupil to let more or less light into the eye.


David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at or text to 864-494-6215.