Your body depends on whole, hearty foods. The healthier your diet, the more your body gets of the nutrients it needs to thrive. This isn’t just true of your system as a whole, either. Individual components function their best when they have the resources they need. Case in point: your eyes.
If you can work more of the best foods for eye health onto your plate, you give your peepers what they need. In other words, if you want to increase your odds of seeing clearly for life, you should choose foods that are good for eye health. So, what are they? Let’s find out.
Best foods for healthy eyes
Whether you’ve got a family history of vision problems or you’re trying to fight eye strain in your day-to-day, here are 12 foods to boost eye health.
A study promoted by the American Optometric Association found that indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in broccoli, can help to remove toxins from your retina. This reduces your risk for age-related macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of vision loss in older adults. Broccoli also contains lutein and zeaxanthin which are also protective for your eyes. Although, note that this study claims that you would have to eat an unreasonable amount of broccoli to really protect against AMD.
Keeping your eyes healthy means keeping them sufficiently hydrated. Some of the best foods for healthy eyes can go a long way. Salmon, for example, contains omega-3 fatty acids. This helps to reduce your risk for dry eye, an uncomfortable condition that gets more common as you age.
If you’re a woman, it’s more important to eat salmon and other omega-3-containing foods that are good for eye health. People assigned female at birth are twice as likely to develop dry eyes.
You’ve probably heard it before: Carrots are one of the best foods for eye health. For starters, they contain tons of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that your body uses to make vitamin A. Vitamin A helps you see at night and defends against myopia (i.e., nearsightedness). If you’ve been looking for a way to avoid the need for vision correction — or to keep your current prescription for your contacts or eyeglasses as long as possible — grab Bugs Bunny’s go-to snack.
Plus, carrots also contain lutein, another antioxidant. This one can help you lower your risk for AMD.
Yes, you should protect your eyes from the sun. But don’t let the name fool you; there’s no protection needed here. Sunflower seeds are one of the best foods for vision. They have lots of vitamin E, an antioxidant protects our eyes from oxidative stress. Vitamin E also helps fight against the sun’s damaging UV rays, reducing your risk of cataracts.
An important thing to note here: While your body can synthesize some vitamins, you need to get vitamin E from food sources or supplements.
Looking for another way to fight against potential sun damage? Turn to kiwi. This fuzzy fruit makes our list of the best foods for healthy eyes because it contains lutein, the AMD-fighting antioxidant I mentioned before, plus zeaxanthin, which helps your eyes filter light.
While a lot of the other foods that are good for eye health might have come as no surprise, this one could feel like a bit of a curveball. Still, it’s worth getting shucking. Not only do oysters contain omega-3 fatty acids, but they’re also high in zinc. This gives you another potent nutrient if you’re trying to fight AMD.
Take a page from Popeye’s book and eat your spinach. As a great source of all-around nutrients, this leafy green is also one of the best foods for healthy eyes. It’s got loads of lutein, which I’ve already noted is a key component of ocular health. And spinach has zeaxanthin, too.
To help your body best absorb these antioxidants, you need to eat them with fat. A little spinach salad drizzled with olive oil — which also has omega-9s and a small amount of omega-3s — gives you an easy way to work the top foods for vision into any meal.
Eggs serve up just about everything your eyes need, from lutein and zeaxanthin to zinc and vitamin A. In fact, a study from 2019 concluded that eating a moderate amount of eggs (about two to four eggs per week) on a regular basis significantly reduces your risk of developing AMD. If you want to reach for foods that are good for eye health, eggs can make it over(ly) easy.
Almonds and other nuts contain high levels of vitamin E, the antioxidant that fights AMD and cataracts. Again, your body can’t make this vitamin on its own.
Plus, this is one of the top foods to boost eye health if you’re trying to avoid kitchen prep. If you don’t want to fire up the stovetop or grab a cutting board, you can snag a handful of almonds and go.
Dairy has both vitamin A and zinc, two nutrients I’ve already pointed out as key for ocular health. But if you really want to choose the best foods for vision, go for the cultured variety when making your dairy choices. Why? Because yogurt contains probiotics. And studies increasingly show that these good bacteria might help with everything from allergic conjunctivitis to dry eye.
I’ve already talked about beta-carotene, its role in vitamin A and why vitamin A matters for your eyes. But what I didn’t tell you is that getting foods with beta-carotene is generally pretty easy for one big reason: that antioxidant makes them orange. So you better believe that oranges have a good amount of this nutrient, earning them their spot on this list of the best foods to boost vision.
Plus, as you probably already know, oranges have lots of vitamin C. And that can help your body fight AMD, cataracts and vision loss in general.
Oranges get a lot of hype for their vitamin C content, but strawberries actually contain more. And since vitamin C delivers the one-two-three punch of preventing overall vision loss, cataracts and AMD, these berries deserve to round out our roundup of the best foods for eye health.