Vision and Nutrition: Protect Your Eye Health


Nutrient Good Food Sources
Vitamin C orange juice, grapefruit juice, papaya, canteloupe, oranges, green pepper
Vitamin E almonds, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, peanuts
Lutein kale, spinach, collard greens, chard, corn
Zeathanthin orange peppers, kale, spinach, collard greens, chard
Omega 3 fatty acids flax seeds/oil, salmon, chia seeds, sardines, cod, mackerel, walnuts


As with other areas of your general health, your dietary choices can have a tremendous impact on your eye health and vision. Your diet can significantly affect your risks of developing both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Cataracts are a common part of the aging process, which results in thickening and clouding of the lens of the eye. This results in decreased vision and ultimately requires surgical treatment to remove the cataracts. In fact, cataract surgery is the most common surgery of any type done in North America. Many factors affect the rate of development of cataracts including smoking and UV exposure. Studies have shown that patients with higher dietary intake of the antioxidants Vitamin C and Vitamin E had both a lower risk of developing cataracts and a slower rate of progression if cataracts were already present.1

AMD is the leading cause of blindness in patients over the age of 65 and affects approximately one in three patients in this age group. Many risk factors have been associated with risk of developing AMD including smoking, age, cardiovascular health and family history. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study has shown supplementation of antioxidants, lutein, zeathanthin and zinc in patients with moderate and advanced AMD resulted in a reduction in the risk of progressing to the advanced stages of vision loss by approximately 25 per cent.1 Studies have also suggested patients with lower dietary intake of lutein and zeathanthin may be at a higher risk of developing AMD.2

Dry eye and blepharitis are likely the two most common eye conditions that affect patients day to day. These conditions can cause symptoms of dryness, irritation, burning, grittiness, watery eyes, transient blurring of vision and discomfort. Higher dietary intake of Omega 3 fatty acids was shown to reduce both the severity of dry eye symptoms and clinical signs of dry eye.3

The bottom line is the food choices you make can impact your eye health and vision and ultimately your quality of life in the future, so choose wisely. The easiest way to get these nutrients is to eat a well-rounded healthy diet according to Canada’s Food Guide, ensure you get five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and incorporate fish and flax and nuts/seeds into your diet on a regular basis. Supplementation of certain nutrients may be recommended if your diet is lacking or for certain conditions. Please consult with your optometrist before taking any supplements for your eye health to ensure what you choose is both safe and right for you.

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NUTRIENT Good Food Sources

  2. Nutritional supplements for age-related macular degeneration. N Krishnadev, A Meleth, E Chew
  3. A randomized controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids in dry eye syndrome. Kumar P