May 19, 2024

Advanced Ailment Care

Elevating Health Solutions

The 8 Best Supplements for Eye Health of 2024

16 min read

Having 20/20 vision has long been everybody’s goal, but for many adults, it’s not a reality. In addition to imperfect vision, there are a host of other maladies that can occur as we grow older, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, dry eye disease, cataracts, and other eye health issues. Older adults, in particular, are at risk for AMD and may benefit from a supplement for eye health. Those who don’t consume a well-rounded diet rich in key nutrients for eye health may also benefit from supplementation, says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD.

There are some nutrients that are especially important when it comes to eye health: antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin E. Antioxidants help counter free radicals, vitamin A helps protect against night blindness, and omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, to name a few benefits. Many supplements marketed for eye health contain a combination of these nutrients. 

When selecting an eye health supplement, it’s important to consider whether you get enough of these nutrients from food alone, so you can pick a supplement that fills any nutrient gaps in your diet. It’s also important to consider the ingredients and select an appropriate dosage for you with the guidance of a trusted healthcare professional. For example, if you have AMD, then an AREDS2 (Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2) supplement is a research-backed formula to prevent the progression of the disease. To select our top picks, we spoke with registered dietitians and ophthalmologists about what to look for in an eye health supplement and their favorite products. 

Our team of registered dietitians reviews and evaluates every supplement we recommend according to our dietary supplement methodology. From there, a registered dietitian on our Medical Expert Board reviews each article for scientific accuracy. Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

Ocuvite’s Eye Vitamin & Mineral Supplement is widely available and contains key vitamins for eye health—vitamins A, C, E, and lutein. It also has zinc, selenium, and copper. Vitamins C, E, lutein, zinc, and copper are components of AREDS and AREDS2 supplements, which have been shown to reduce the advancement of AMD. Brian M. DeBroff, MD, FACS, chief of ophthalmology at Bridgeport Hospital, explains vitamin A is an important component of rhodopsin, a protein that helps the retina function in low light conditions. A deficiency in vitamin A can lead to night blindness or dry eye syndrome.

Selenium is thought to play a role in dry eye disease (DED) partly because in DED, there are fewer selenium-transport proteins in tears which could contribute to oxidative stress. So, selenium supplementation has the potential to improve symptoms of DED.

Krystal Dunham, MS, RDN, LD, recommends this supplement because it’s easy to find and affordable. Plus, there are variations of this product geared towards different age groups and eye conditions. For example, Ocuvite has a supplement for adults 50+ that also has vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and zeaxanthin. That may be a better option for those with AMD since it is closer to the AREDS/AREDS2 formula.

Key Specs:
Form:
Vitamins A, C, and E, zinc, selenium, copper, lutein | Type: Tablet | Dose: One tablet | Servings Per Container: 240 | Third-Party Certified: No

Best Vegetarian

NOW Supplements, Ocu Support with FloraGLO Lutein

NOW Supplements, Ocu Support with FloraGLO Lutein

Amazon


NOW’s Ocu Support Clinical Strength Veg Capsules are another supplement recommended by Dunham. She recommends these because of their lutein and zeaxanthin content and the fact that they’re easy to swallow, don’t have an unpleasant aftertaste, and they’re third-party tested. 

Besides lutein and zeaxanthin, they include the antioxidants vitamins C and E, plus more ingredients with antioxidant properties—green tea extract, rutin powder, and bilberry extract. Dr. DeBroff says that free radicals resulting from oxidative damage are key factors in cataract development and macular degeneration, so antioxidants may help prevent these eye conditions, especially vitamins C and E. 

Similar to our best overall pick, Ocuvite’s Eye Vitamin & Mineral Supplement, this product also has selenium and zinc, which Dr. DeBroff says helps maintain the health of the retina, cell membranes, and protein structures of the eye. 

Finally, this supplement also has N-acetyl cysteine, which has evidence-backed benefits to eye health with topical use, but more research is necessary to support the benefits of taking it orally. Additionally, it is important to note that some of the herbal ingredients in this supplement may interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for all. 

Key Specs:
Form:
Vitamins A, C, and E, riboflavin, zinc, selenium | Type: Capsule | Dose: Three capsules | Servings Per Container: 40 | Third-Party Certified: Yes

Best Vitamin A

STS Spring Valley Vitamin A Supplement 2400 mcg

STS Spring Valley Vitamin A Supplement 2400 mcg

Amazon


Vitamin A helps in the prevention of night blindness and dry eye disease, according to both Dunham and Dr. DeBroff. Additionally, Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, says that vitamin A is important for clear, healthy corneas. Eye health issues typically occur with vitamin A deficiencies, but vitamin A deficiencies are pretty rare in the U.S. However, those with gastrointestinal absorption issues or cystic fibrosis are at an increased risk for vitamin A deficiency and may benefit from supplementary vitamin A to protect their overall health, including eye health.

If you prefer to get in vitamin A through your diet, beef liver, eggs, milk, and fatty fish are good animal sources, per Dunham, while orange vegetables, such as carrots, winter squash, and sweet potatoes, are good sources of beta-carotene which our bodies convert into vitamin A.

We like Spring Valley’s Vitamin A supplement to correct a deficiency because it’s third-party tested, and the dose—2,400 micrograms—is below the tolerable upper limit (UL) for vitamin A of 3,000 micrograms. 

Note that this supplement is made with fish and gelatin, so it’s not a good fit for those with fish allergies or following a vegan diet.

Key Specs:
Form:
Retinyl Palmitate | Type: Softgel | Dose: One softgel | Servings Per Container: 250 | Third-Party Certified: Yes

Best Vitamin C

Nature Made Vitamin C 500 mg Dietary Supplement

Nature Made Vitamin C 500 mg Dietary Supplement

Amazon


The eyes contain some of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the body. In fact, vitamin C is a key nutrient in the AREDS formula to help slow the progression of AMD. There’s also some research supporting the potential for vitamin C to reduce the risk of developing cataracts, although the overall research on this is still inconclusive. These benefits are largely because vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it helps neutralize harmful free radicals that cause oxidative stress to the eyes. 

If you incorporate certain foods in your diet, it’s fairly easy to meet your vitamin C needs through food alone. For example, ½ cup of sweet red peppers have 106% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin C, while ¾ cup of orange juice has 103% of the DV.

However, if you’re looking for a vitamin C supplement, Nature Made’s Vitamin C is USP-verified and affordably priced. We also like that it contains 500 milligrams of vitamin C, the same dose used in the researched-backed AREDS formula. Plus, it contains far less than the tolerable upper limit (UL) of 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C, making it a safe choice.

Key Specs:
Form:
Ascorbic Acid | Type: Tablet | Dose: One tablet | Servings Per Container: 100 | Third-Party Certified: Yes

Best Vitamin E

Kirkland Signature Vitamin E 180 mg

Kirkland Signature Vitamin E 180 mg

Costco


Vitamin E is an antioxidant, so it protects against damage from free radicals linked with various eye diseases, including cataracts and macular degeneration, per Dr. DeBroff. While some research shows that there’s potential for vitamin E supplementation to prevent glaucoma and cataracts—two common eye health issues amongst older adults—the overall body of research on this topic is inconclusive. That said, vitamin E is another vitamin included in AREDS and AREDS2 supplements to prevent the progression of AMD. The dose in these supplements is the same dose as our top pick for vitamin E—400 IUs. 

Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and leafy, green vegetables. Vitamin E deficiency is rare among Americans, and symptoms of deficiency are uncommon. However, since vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, people with fat-malabsorption disorders are at higher risk of deficiency. 

If you’re in the market for a supplement, we recommend Kirkland Signature’s Vitamin E 180 mg. This supplement is affordable and third-party tested. It’s also well below the UL for vitamin E, and as mentioned above, the dose is the same as in AREDS/AREDS2 supplements. 

This supplement is gluten-free; however, it contains gelatin so those following a strict vegan diet may not want to take this supplement.

Key Specs:
Form:
dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate | Type: Softgel | Dose: One softgel | Servings Per Container: 500 | Third-Party Certified: Yes

Best Omega-3s

Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Lemon Flavor 16 oz

Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Lemon Flavor 16 oz

Amazon


Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat widely touted for their anti-inflammatory benefits. There is mixed evidence that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may reduce symptoms of dry eye disease and computer vision syndrome—eye strain from computer use. Dunham explains that DHA—an omega-3 fatty acid—is abundant in the retina of your eyes, and Shapiro says that consuming more omega-3s may help prevent inflammation and lubricate the eyes. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods like flaxseed oil, canola oil, chia seeds, walnuts, and fatty fish. There are recommendations for the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which most Americans get enough of, but no recommendations for adequate intakes of EPA or DHA. 

If you’re looking for an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, we recommend Nordic Naturals’ Omega-3 Liquid supplement. Shapiro recommends this brand because of their well-sourced omega-3 supplements. Their fish oil is from sustainably sourced, wild-caught sardines and anchovies, which are low-mercury fish. Since this is a liquid supplement, it’s easier to adjust the dose to meet your needs. One teaspoon contains 1560 milligrams of omega-3s from EPA and DHA, but you can easily take more or less as needed. 

You can also rest assured that this supplement is third-party tested for purity and potency, including heavy metal testing. It comes in lemon flavor, which helps offset the fish oil taste. Since it’s sourced from fish, it isn’t suitable for those with a seafood allergy or who otherwise don’t consume fish products. 

Key Specs:
Form:
EPA, DHA | Type: Liquid | Dose: One teaspoon | Servings Per Container: 96 | Third-Party Certified: Yes

Best Antioxidants

Twinlab TWL Ocuguard Plus Caps 60

Twinlab TWL Ocuguard Plus Caps 60

Amazon


Twinlab’s Ocuguard Plus is another expert-recommended supplement for eye health. Shapiro likes it specifically because its antioxidant profile is tailored to promote eye health. It contains vitamins C and E, plus lutein and zeaxanthin. 

Antioxidants can be obtained through a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They’re also found in some teas. Supplementation with antioxidants hasn’t been shown to prevent cataracts, but combined with zinc, it may help prevent the progression of AMD. This supplement also has citrus bioflavonoids, quercetin, rutin, bilberry fruit extract, and l-glutathione—additional antioxidants that can help prevent oxidative stress. 

Besides antioxidants, it also has vitamin A, a nutrient known to prevent night blindness, and vitamin D. A 2022 systematic review found links between vitamin D and myopia, AMD, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye syndrome. Vitamin D deficiency is relatively common compared to other nutrients; a 2023 systematic review found that globally, 15.7% of people’s vitamin D levels were below 30 nmol/L—a common cutoff for deficiency. Supplementation can help correct low vitamin D levels.

Key Specs:
Form:
Vitamins A, C, D, and E, riboflavin, zinc, selenium, chromium, citrus bioflavonoids complex, taurine, quercetin dihydrate, rutin, lutein, bilberry fruit extract, l-glutathione, zeaxanthin isomers | Type: Capsule | Dose: Two capsules | Servings Per Container: 30 | Third-Party Certified: No

Best for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

ICaps AREDS2 Eye Vitamin Softgels

ICaps AREDS2 Eye Vitamin Softgels 120.0ea

Amazon


As far as supplements for eye health go, AREDS2 supplements have some of the strongest research behind them for preventing the progression of AMD. Both Dr. Rapaport and Dr. DeBroff recommend these supplements because of their strong research backing. 

AREDS supplements include 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 IUs of vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta-carotene, 2 milligrams of copper, and 80 milligrams of zinc. This formulation was shown to reduce the risk of advanced AMD by about 25% over the course of five years. The AREDS2 trial found that adding 10 milligrams of lutein and 2 milligrams of zeaxanthin and removing the beta-carotene reduced the risk of advanced AMD even more than the AREDS formulation. 

If you have AMD, we recommend Systane’s I-Caps AREDS2 supplement. It has the same formulation used in the study referenced above, and it’s backed by third-party testing

Note that the softgels are made with gelatin, so those following a strict vegan diet may want to avoid this supplement. 

Key Specs:
Form:
Vitamins C, E, zinc, copper, lutein, zeaxanthin | Type: Softgel | Dose: One softgel | Servings Per Container: 120 | Third-Party Certified: Yes

Is a Supplement for Eye Health Beneficial?

If you have an eye disease, then it may be helpful to add supplements to your diet to promote eye health, particularly if you struggle to eat a well-rounded diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Other groups that may also benefit from adding a supplement for eye health include:

  • Older adults. Older adults are at higher risk of AMD, explains Dunham, so taking a supplement could help manage this disease. Dr. Rapaport and Dr. DeBroff specifically recommend an AREDS/AREDS2 supplement if you have AMD because these are specifically formulated to prevent the advancement of macular degeneration.
  • Those with eye-related health issues. If you have diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, or chronic dry eyes, you may also benefit from a supplement for eye health, says Dunham. 
  • Those who smoke. Smoking puts you at higher risk for eye issues like macular degeneration and cataracts, so taking a supplement may help prevent these health issues.
  • Those who are exposed to excessive blue light or screen time. The research is still a bit mixed, but a 2018 study did find that blue light may cause damage to your cornea, crystal lens, and retina. Therefore, if you spend long hours in front of a screen, especially if you struggle to eat a balanced diet, you may benefit from adding a supplement to ensure your eyes have the nutrients they need to stay healthy. 
  • Those with a nutrient deficiency. If you’re deficient in vitamin A or E, then supplementing these nutrients to reach normal levels is important for not just eye health but overall health. Furthermore, if you struggle to incorporate antioxidants and omega-3- or vitamin C-rich foods, you may want to add a supplement to your routine.

Who May Not Benefit From Supplements for Eye Health

Although eye health supplements are mostly considered safe, they may be unnecessary for certain populations. These include:

  • Individuals who consume a well-rounded diet. Supplements are meant to supplement your food intake, but if you meet your nutrient needs through food alone, then a supplement isn’t necessary.
  • Individuals without risk factors for eye disease. Those with healthy eyes and no specific risk factors for eye disease like smoking, diabetes, or old age may not need a supplement to maintain eye health.
  • Individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding. While pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important to be more diligent about vetting supplements and ensuring what you take is safe and research-backed. There isn’t much research on eye health supplements in these populations, so it’s usually best to err on the side of caution. Plus, if you’re taking other supplements, you’ll want to be careful about overdoing it by adding one for eye health to the mix.

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here. 

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by one of three independent, third-party certifiers: USP, NSF, or ConsumerLab.com. 

It’s important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

We interviewed the following experts to determine the best supplements for eye health: 

  • Krystal Dunham, MS, RDN, LD, owner and operator of The Mother Road Dietitian
  • Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, founder of Real Nutrition NYC
  • Yuna Rapoport, MD, MPH, Board Certified Ophthalmologist at Manhattan Eye
  • Brian M. DeBroff, MD, FACS, chief of ophthalmology at Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health

What to Look For in Supplements for Eye Health

Third-Party Testing

Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab where they are tested to ensure they contain what they say they contain and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it’s important to note:

  • Third-party testing does not test to see if a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure the supplement will not interact with other supplements or medications.
  • Not all third-party testing is created equal. It is not uncommon for supplement companies to pay labs for certificates after conducting minimal to no testing. 
  • The third-party certifications we can trust are ConsumerLab.com, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are difficult to obtain and/or expensive for manufacturers, so many companies choose not to get their products tested by one of these three organizations. 
  • Sometimes products tested by these three companies are more expensive to try to offset the cost they pay for certification.
  • Just because a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies, it does not mean it’s a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer and calling up the manufacturer and their testing lab to determine their protocols and decide if you feel comfortable consuming the supplement.

Form

You can find supplements for eye health in a variety of forms, including pills, liquids, and gummies. Pills are usually the easiest to find and convenient, liquid makes it easy to adjust the dose, and gummies are easy to take if you struggle with swallowing pills.

Many supplements for eye health include multiple nutrients, like AREDS/AREDS2 supplements for AMD. However, you can typically find single-nutrient supplements with key vitamins and nutrients for eye health—omega-3s, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamins A, C, and E.

Ingredients & Potential Interactions

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.

There are some specific ingredients to be mindful of when it comes to supplements for eye health. If you are following a vegan diet, then check the label on pills and gummy supplements because they often contain gelatin. Furthermore, omega-3 supplements are typically made with fish oil and aren’t vegan.

Some eye health supplements have added herbal ingredients that may interact with certain medications or cause allergic reactions in some people. These herbal additives may not be backed by research. In general, it’s best to avoid supplements with herbal ingredients if they don’t specify the amounts or if there isn’t research to support their benefits. 

Certain medications can interact with nutrients important for eye health, so if you are taking a prescription medication, supplementation should not be started until consulting with your healthcare provider. Namely, Vitamin E affects blood clotting, so taking a vitamin E supplement can be dangerous if you are also taking an anticoagulant drug like Warfarin. Taking a vitamin A supplement while also taking a prescription drug with synthetic retinoids like acitretin or bexarotene can cause vitamin A toxicity. Again, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.

Dosage

Each eye health nutrient has a different recommended dosage that can vary based on your age, sex, and whether you’re pregnant or lactating. The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) or daily adequate intakes (AIs) for key nutrients for eye health for adults are below.

  • Vitamin A
  • Men: 900 micrograms RAE
  • Women: 700 micrograms RAE
  • Pregnancy: 770 micrograms RAE
  • Lactation: 1,300 micrograms RAE
  • Vitamin C
  • Men: 90 milligrams (add 35 milligrams if you smoke)
  • Women: 75 milligrams (add 35 milligrams if you smoke)
  • Pregnancy: 85 milligrams
  • Lactation: 120 milligrams
  • Vitamin E
  • Men, women, and pregnancy: 15 milligrams
  • Lactation: 19 milligrams
  • Lutein: no formal recommendation, but studies suggest 10 milligrams
  • Zeaxanthin: no formal recommendation, but studies suggest 2 milligrams
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: no established overall recommendation

How Much is Too Much?

Each nutrient for eye health has a different tolerable upper intake level (UL). Unless a healthcare professional recommends you take a higher dose than the UL to treat a nutrient deficiency, you are at increased risk for adverse effects or toxicity if you exceed this amount.

Lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids don’t have officially established ULs. 

Here are the ULs for key nutrients for eye health:

  • Vitamin A: 3,000 micrograms (10,000 IU)
  • Vitamin C: 2,000 milligrams
  • Vitamin E: 1,000 milligrams
  • Lutein: no established upper limit, but studies suggest up to 20 milligrams per day is safe
  • Zeaxanthin: no established upper limit
  • Omega 3: no established upper limit, but studies suggest long-term intake of 5 grams per day is safe

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Can I improve my eyesight with supplements?

    Using supplements to bridge dietary gaps in nutrition may help promote your eye health. In fact, ensuring you meet your baseline nutrient needs is not only important for eye health but overall health as well. Taking an AREDS2 supplement, in particular for macular degeneration, can help preserve your vision, says Dr. Rapaport. However, it’s best to also consume foods rich in nutrients for eye health because of the synergistic effect of food.


  • How can I improve my eye health?

    One great way to improve your eye health is by eating a varied diet rich in fruits and veggies. This will help ensure you get in key nutrients for eye health through food like antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and E. Furthermore, Dr. Rappaport recommends following the 20-20-20 rule for screen time; for every 20 minutes you’re on a screen, take 20 seconds to look 20 feet away. It’s also a great idea to get your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist.


  • What vitamins or minerals are good for your eye health?

    Key vitamins for eye health are vitamins A, C, and E. Eye health supplements often also contain the minerals zinc, selenium, and chromium. Besides these, omega-3 fatty acids and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are also important for good eye health.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Isabel Vasquez RD, LDN is a registered dietitian, freelance health and nutrition writer, and the founder of Nourishing Narratives LLC. In her work as a dietitian, she prioritizes recommending high-quality supplements backed by research and not taking a one-size-fits-all approach to health.

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