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Nutrition for Vision

Please live a healthy life; medicine is an imperfect science.
Hunter 'Patch' Adams

Modern medicine or Nature's Way?
For 25 years I relied on doctors for my health, because modern medicine leads us to believe that we are born with a deficiency of drugs and an excess of body parts.  Since then I've learned that we mostly just tend to overdose on unnatural foods & drinks, and all we really lack is a thorough understanding of the laws of nature.  For instance, some people who have dry eyes are simply dehydrated and/or don't blink enough, and the dry eyes are really not due to an eye-drop deficiency.

I believe the ideal method of taking the necessary nutrients in the quantities required is of course Nature's way, i.e. to eat fresh natural foods which have not been artificially interfered with or processed.  For the best nutritional value, your diet should include lots of whole, fresh, ripe, raw, organic foods, preferably grown in mineral rich soils.  Rather than spending time and money on supplements, spend a little time studying which nutrients are in which foods, or what the body requires to make its own supply. Eating fresh organic, if possible home-grown, foods is most beneficial to your health.

Best food for your eyes:
Most people instantly think of carrots when asked to name a food that's good for their eyes.  You may be surprised that the number one food for the eyes is actually kale.  The following is a list of foods that promote eye-health.
Dark green leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, fresh parsley, collard greens, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, dandelion greens, chard, endive, lettuce, cabbage, pak choi, and herbs such as parsley, basil, mint.
Read this article about eating leafy greens to see clearly.
Yellow/orange vegetables
: carrots, corn, pumpkin, sweet peppers, chili peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash.
Other vegetables: broccoli, asparagus, green peas, green beans, avocado. garlic.
Yellow/orange fruits citrus fruits, apricots, peaches, dark cherries, cantaloupe, watermelon, persimmons, nectarines, bananas, apples, papaya, pineapple, mango, grapes.
Most berries, especially gojiberries, bilberries and blueberries. 
Beans & lentils: soybeans/edamame, kidney, black, white, yellow, pink, navy, pinto, adzuki, roman, garbanzo.
Nuts: pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia, peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts.
Seeds: sunflower, flax, sesame, pumpkin, poppy, mustard, chia, squash.
For some guidance regarding what nutrients are found in what foods, check this FDA website.


If you do wish to try supplements, Vision Health is a good overall vision supplement made by Emerald Labs - their products are additive-free, which many other companies can't claim.
(May 2022 update on Vision Health: it no longer contains NAC, which has been replaced by Setria L-Glutathione, while their whole food proprietary blend now has tocotrienol complex (a form of Vitamin E) added in, and the blend has been reduced from 458mg to just 100mg. Reasons? - Likely mainly due to FDA making noise in 2021 about wanting to ban NAC as a supplement (it's a 'drug' instead, they claim), and big stores like Amazon are already wiping NAC-containing supplements off their shelves, ahead of legally needing to do so... Vision Health is still a good product that's free of nasty ingredients, so I'll continue to say it is probably the better one to get. If the NAC storm blows over, we can all ask Emerald Labs to return to its original formula.)
You'll find more options at - they sell a large range of products for most vision conditions and they ship worldwide.
Vision supplements can be useful in helping the body and eyes get back into balance after a deficiency occurs. However, for the long term it is best to assess how the deficiency came about, address that problem, and implement appropriate changes in diet or lifestyle so supplements are no longer needed. There simply is no better way to get all the nutrients you need than through delicious healthy whole foods.  

Cautionary note about vision supplements!
A special note of caution regarding vision supplements is that many of them will have high doses of Vitamin A and/or beta carotene. Both are nutrients the eyes need, yet they are far more beneficial for you when they come from your food, and can actually be detrimental to your health in the form of supplements. An excessive intake of Vitamin A and beta carotene is a potential health problem due to an increased risk of cancer and a contributor to osteoporosis.

Vitamin C is a common supplement and it too, in mega-doses such as 10,000mg, can lead to visual problems, especially causing floaters and increasing the risk of vitreous detachment, retinal detachment, macular pucker, cellophane maculopathy, cataracts and macular degeneration.

Supplements can easily provide too much of a good thing, thus turning it into toxic excess. Besides the already mentioned issue with excess vitamins A and C, this is also true for vitamins B-2 and E and for copper, zinc, iron and selenium. Obtaining nutrients from your food typically makes it much harder or impossible to accidentally overdose, yet there is one exception to this general rule: one Brazil nut per day provides all the selenium your body requires, while eating a handful of them creates an overdose. Limit your intake to just one a day to be safe.

Your goal is to get sufficient amounts of all healthful nutrients, in their proper balance, without overdosing on any one. In all health issues, use common sense, and gather as much information as you can.

Besides 'too much of a good thing' supplements often also have a variety of toxins in them to 'preserve' the main nutrients, or simply to bulk up the content of a capsule. Before taking any supplement, whether for vision or other reasons, it may be smart to first check the ingredients listed on the bottle against this list of toxins that are commonly added. If you find a match, move on to a better brand.
As an example, the heavily advertised (in 2022) "Vista Clear" supplement has magnesium stearate listed under "other ingredients" and thus, despite good main ingredients, I can't recommend it.

Extra note on the "Bulletproof Eye Armor" supplement: a recent (2021 or 2022) change in their labeling makes it appear to be a fairly decent product, yet their gelatin is bovine gelatin (no longer revealed as such) which makes it problematic for those choosing a vegetarian diet, and their 'Brain octane oil' used to be on the label as 'caprilyc acid triglycerides from highly refined coconut oil' - and any highly refined oil can lead to health problems (see below for an example). Due to this rebranding and attempt to hide what's truly in their product, I wouldn't trust this company and I suggest shopping elsewhere.

Modern medicine leads us to believe
that we are born with a deficiency of drugs
and an excess of body parts...

What to avoid.
To create health, it's not only important what you eat but also what you leave out of your diet. The following are best avoided or at least minimized, especially if you currently have health/vision challenges:

Caffeinated beverages: Coffee, soft drinks, regular tea and any caffeinated herb tea.
All refined sugars: white, brown, beet, turbinado, cane, raw, fructose, dextrose, maltose, glucose, lactose, sucralose, aspartame, neotame, agave, molasses, corn syrup, rice syrup, sorghum syrup, barley malt, fruit sugar, saccharin, stevia, xylitol, and all artificial sweeteners. Maple sugar and coconut sugar are only marginally better; still far from healthy. Raw honey can be a substitute (except for babies) in sensible small quantities. Fruit sugar, when listed as a separate ingredient, is also a refined sugar, avoid it! Instead satisfy your sweet tooth by eating fresh whole fruits which provide natural sugars that the body can easily deal with because they come with an impressive array of vitamins, minerals and fibers.
Alcohol: Alcohol destroys many vital nutrients; drinkers require a higher dosage of vitamins.
Artificial colorings, flavorings or preservatives; Dairy products; Refined grains; White and Refined flours; MSG; Table salt; Hydrogenated oils; Fried foods.

Food is not only your best medicine, it is your only medicine
Edward C Kondrot, MD
(Author of 'Healing the Eye the Natural Way')

Healing your eyes naturally.
Although I believe that good nutrition can play a big role in overcoming eye-diseases, it is important to know that most symptoms can be relieved with natural vision habits and relaxation, as those increase circulation to the eyes which is key in any healing process.  Without good vision habits, it will be more challenging to overcome any eye disease when making changes in nutrition alone.

Nutrients required for healthy vision.
Many nutrients are known to be involved in the healthy functioning of the eyes:

nutrition for eyesightMinerals and trace nutrients:
Alpha Lipoic Acid, Amino Acids, Beta Carotene, Bioflavonoids, Calcium, Choline, Chromium, Copper, CoQ10, Cysteine, Enzymes, Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) especially Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids including Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA), Gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), Glutathione, Glucosamine, Inositol, Iodine, Lutein, Lycopene, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Para-amino benzoic acid (PABA), Phosphorus, Potassium, Quercetin, Rutin, Selenium, Taurine, Vanadium, Zeaxanthin, Zinc.

: (the main ones are in bold):  
, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-7 , B-9, B-12, C, D, E, K.

Healthy lifestyle.

Good nutrition is important for healthy vision, but can not stand on its own. A truly healthy lifestyle involves a healthy diet as well as providing exercise/play, fresh air, clean water, adequate rest and sleep, emotional poise, sunshine, a sense of purpose, and loving relationships.

depletion factors bad sight Depletion factors.
The main depletion factors of vital nutrients from the body are: Stress, Alcohol, Antibiotics and Drugs (both medical and recreational drugs, including cigarettes). Your eyesight can be negatively affected by various medicines, as well as Botox, Steroids, Atropine eye drops. So read the list of possible side-effects and ask your physician for health-supporting alternatives.

Other problem causers tend to be: 
Refined sugars, soft drinks, caffeinated beverages, hydrogenated oils, fried foods, table salt, refined grains, dairy products, MSG, artificial colors, flavorings and preservatives.

Avoid bad habits...

Nutrient deficiencies.
The table below gives a list of vision challenges with their possible related nutrient deficiency and/or general toxicity. General toxicity is not a deficiency of nutrients but an excess of harmful substances, either from a less than optimal diet, or from environmental influences such as bad air or exposure to chemicals.

A feeling of 'sand' under the eyes B-2, EFAs
Amblyopia A, B-complex
Bags under the eyes General toxicity
Blepharitis (flaking and swelling of the eyelids) B-complex
Blepharospasm (involuntary twitching of eyelids) B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, Magnesium
Bloodshot eyes B-complex, especially B-2
Blurred vision A, B-1, B-2, B-6, E, Chromium, GABA
An overdose of Vit A can cause blurred vision.
Many medicines have 'blurred vision' listed as a side effect: check labels and ask for herbal alternatives.
Burning and/or itching of the eyes B-2



A, Beta Carotene, B-2, B-3, B-9, B-12, C, D, E, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Amino Acids, Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Cysteine, Glutathione, Quercetin, Rutin, Selenium, Zinc, Dehydration, general toxicity (esp. high levels of lead, mercury, iron, cadmium), lactose intolerance. Smoking and Steroid use can cause cataracts, as can an excess of vitamins C or E.
Color blindness A, B-12
Conjunctivitis (inflammation/redness of the whites of the eyes) A, B-2
Corneal ulcers A, B-1, B-2, C
Crusting of the eyelids (granulated eyelids) B-2
Dark circles under the eyes B-12
Diabetic Retinopathy A, B-6, C, E, Selenium, Zinc, EFAs, Magnesium, Bioflavonoids
Double vision A
Drooped eye lid C, E, Potassium
Dry cornea syndrome A, B-7, B-9, C, Amino Acids
High sugar or alcohol consumption is dehydrating.

Dry eyes, Xerophthalmia

A, B-6, B-t, B-9, B-12, C, D, E, EFAs, Potassium, CoQ10, Water.
General toxicity and dehydration worsen it (as does a staring habit, or a low blinking rate.)
Excessive tearing of the eyes A, B-2
Eye fatigue A, B-2
Floaters, spots in visual field
(Also known as Muscae Volitantes)
Beta Carotene, C, E, Calcium, Copper. General toxicity or Vitamin C overdose can lead to floaters.
Glaucoma (abnormal pressure in eyes that damages the optic nerve. Normal pressure is 12-22 mm Hg; 23 and higher may be problematic.) A, B-complex (esp B-1, B-3, B-12), C, E, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Bioflavonoids, Choline, CoQ10, Magnesium, EFAs, Quercetin, Zinc
High blood sugar can contribute to Glaucoma.
Caffeine can contribute to Glaucoma.
Inflammation of the eye A, D, E, Quercitin. Insufficient exposure to sunlight
Keratoconus / Conical Cornea A, C, E, Lutein, Magnesium, Zeaxanthin, antioxidants
Loss of peripheral vision General toxicity

Macular degeneration

Beta Carotene, A, B-2, B-3, B-6, B-12, C, D, E, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Bioflavonoids, Cysteine, Chromium, Copper, CoQ10, EFAs, Glutathione, Lutein, Manganese, Quercetin, Selenium, Taurine, Zeaxanthin, Zinc.
General toxicity, smoking, lead exposure, vitamin C or E overdose, high iron levels and high blood sugar can contribute to Macular Degeneration.
Diets high in refined oils lead to ARMD. (video)
Macular edema C, E, Bioflavonoids
Myopia (nearsightedness) A, B-2, B-9, D, E, Calcium, Chromium.
A diet high in refined sugars can also play a role in developing myopia. Lack of outdoor time (use of distance vision) also contributes.
Night blindness A, B-complex, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc
Ocular Rosacea (painful, burning, feels like foreign body in eyes) B-complex, especially B-2, enzymes
Photophobia (sensitivity of the eyes to light) B-2, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc
('middle age sight' farsighted, resulting in a need for reading glasses)
A, B-1, B-2, B-6, C, E, Glutathione, Iron, Selenium, Zinc.
Highly fluctuating or high blood sugar levels can contribute to presbyopia.
Retinal bleeding B-1, E, Zinc
Retinopathy C, E, Bioflavonoids
Retinal detachment or retinitis A, B-2, Zinc,
General toxicity and Vitamin C overdose can lead to retinal detachment.
Retinitis Pigmentosa 
(pigment clumps at the back of the eye)
A, B-complex, C, E, Alpha Lipoic Acid, EFAs, CoQ10, Cysteine, Taurine, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc
Sties on the eyelids A, Zinc
Strabismus / Squint A, B-complex
Stress B-complex, D, Calcium, Chromium, GABA, Magnesium, Tryptophan, Zinc
Swelling of the eyelids or swelling under the eyes Potassium, Iodine (causing sluggish thyroid)
Unable to produce tears A, EFA
Uveitis B-6, C, E, Bioflavonoids, EFAs, CoQ10, Zinc
Vitreous Degeneration / Detachment C. Lutein, Zeaxanthin.
Excess of Vitamin C, Zinc and/or Vanadium can contribute.

"We also found and reported that the food-obtained-folate (B-9) appears to be far more effective in protecting eye and
visual function than the shelf-life-assured pharmacological form
found in vitamin bottles."

Benjamin C. Lane, O.D.
(On the effect of diet on the quality of the tearfilm, especially for contact lens users.)

Note:  This page is for educational and information purposes only. It is not intended to be or replace a medical diagnosis. Sources are listed below.  This page is not 'FDA approved', so read at your own risk. However, no preservatives were added and it's dolphin safe... (anyway, please read the disclaimer)

These are the sources of the information presented on this page:
Healthy Vision - Neal Adams, M.D. (Recommended nutrition book, by an ophthalmologist.)
Self Test Nutrition Guide - Cass Igram, D.O.
Nutrition and the Eyes, Volumes I-III - Bill Sardi
Smart medicine for your eyes - Jeffrey R. Anshel, O.D.
Natural Eye Care, an Encyclopedia - Marc Grossman, O.D., L.Ac. & Glen Swartwout, O.D.
Nutrition in Eye Health and Disease - Stanley C Evans, Ophthalmic Nutritionist & Orthoptist
Sunlight can Save your Life -
Kane Zime M.D., M.S.
Nutrition, Health & Disease - Gary Price Todd, M.D.
The Power Behind your Eyes - Robert Michael Kaplan, O.D.
- Dr. Benjamin Clarence Lane, O.D.
Super Immunity - Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements
What Doctors Don't Tell You, June 2013 (Macular Degeneration, p62-64)
The Epidemiology of Eye Disease - Johnson, Minassian, Weale, 1998 (Cataract p105)

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