Like many parts of your body, your eyes need certain vitamins and minerals to work properly. A lack of these nutrients could increase your risk of some eye diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Taking vitamin supplements may be one way to help protect your eyes and provide them with essential nutrients.1
The eyes are complicated organs. They need a healthy supply of antioxidants and nutrients to work properly and protect themselves from disease. Here’s a few important supplements that could help you maintain your eye health:2
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect the cells in the eye from damage. Research suggests that the best source of vitamin E is from a proper diet. However, taking 400 IU of vitamin E as part of a daily supplement called Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) may help reduce the risks of macular degeneration.3
Vitamin C is another antioxidant that your eyes need to protect cells from damage and produce a vital protein called collagen. Daily supplements of vitamin C may be linked to a reduced risk of cataracts.4
Thiamine, or vitamin B1, is an important nutrient that helps cells work properly. Some research suggests that thiamine may help reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy.5
Zinc is a mineral that your body needs to produce melanin, protecting your eyes from ultraviolet light. Supplements of zinc alongside other antioxidants may help protect eyes from the progression of macular degeneration.6
Before you decide to start taking supplements, it’s important to check the ingredients of your multivitamins. If you have allergies or are prone to upset stomach, avoid products that use unnecessary fillers. Look at the label to make sure the products you use have the recommended dosage of vitamins and minerals for good eye health. You should also always check the expiration date of any supplements to make sure the product is fresh.7
Most importantly, talk to your healthcare provider before taking supplements. Multivitamins may be a good way to make sure your eyes get the nutrients they need, but they aren’t a cure for vision problems. Your healthcare provider can help you decide the best way to protect your eyes.8
Another important way to maintain your eye health is to eat a well-balanced diet.9 Here are a few common food sources that provide your eyes with some vital antioxidants, vitamins and minerals:10
- Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, supporting retina health and possibly preventing dry eyes.
- Nuts and seeds like almonds and peanuts contain vitamin E, an antioxidant that could help protect eyes against age-related macular degeneration.
- Carrots are a good source of vitamin A and beta carotene, nutrients that help maintain the eye’s surface.
- Kale and spinach contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which help guard against conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Since these nutrients aren’t made naturally in the body, you have to get them through your diet.
Making sure you’re getting the right nutrients is only one part of maintaining your eyes’ health. It’s also important to get regular checkups with your eye doctor. You should visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist at least once per year if you have any vision problems or wear glasses or contacts. You should also visit your eye doctor if you have severe eye pain or irritation or any sudden changes in your vision.11
Humana offers vision insurance that can be included with your health plan or used as a supplement to employer-provided coverage.