Eyes & Vision

Last Updated: August 16 2022

Vision is the result of eyes converting light into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. Oxidative stress is implicated in the development of eye disease, so consuming adequate amounts of nutrients with antioxidant properties is important for eye health.

What are the basics of eyes and vision?

Vision is dependent on the ability of eyes to focus and convert light into electrical signals, which then travel along the optic nerve to the brain to be processed into images.[1] Light initially passes through the cornea at the front of the eye, then through an opening called the pupil, the size of which is controlled by the iris, the colored part of the eye. Light then passes through the lens, which focuses the light on the retina, a structure at the back of the eye containing photoreceptor cells that turn the light into electrical signals to be picked up by the optic nerve.[2]

Major eye-related conditions include age-related macular degeneration (the macula is the part of the retina responsible for clear vision), glaucoma, cataract (i.e., a clouding of the lens), diabetic retinopathy (i.e., damage to the blood vessels of the retina due to diabetes), and dry eye.

How could diet affect eyes and vision?

An adequate intake of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, especially vitamin-c, vitamin-e, vitamin-a, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, is crucial for eye health.[3] Vitamin A deficiency leads to night blindness and eventually permanent blindness, if left untreated. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin also support optimal eye health.

Dietary patterns rich in fruit-and-vegetable (especially dark leafy greens and yellow- and orange-colored fruits and vegetables), fatty fish, nuts, and legumes are generally associated with a reduced risk of eye disease.[4]

Which supplements are of most interest for eyes and vision?

The eyes are susceptible to oxidative stress from inflammation, metabolic activity, and exposure to light. It’s hypothesized that supplementation with antioxidant nutrients may reduce the development and worsening of eye conditions by decreasing oxidative stress. Nutrients found in high concentrations in eye tissue are also of major interest. The most popular supplements for eye health include: