Protect your Eyes by Eating Healthy

by Elisa Olivier-Nielsen, MA, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, EON Consulting

As summer approaches, we are all looking forward to spending more time outdoors with family and friends. Enjoying nature is one of those fun activities that allow us to go hiking, riding bicycles, swimming, gardening, picnicking and even having our dream wedding overlooking a picturesque view.

With all of this excitement, sometimes we may forget to consider certain precautions needed to guarantee our safety.

With the highlighted importance on protecting our skin, we usually pack our sunscreen lotion, insect repellent spray and hats, but what about our eyes?

The sun also can impact our eyes, and damage can be minimal to extensive depending on the level and duration of exposure. For example, UV rays can worsen macular degeneration, cause retinopathy and corneal sunburn, accelerate the development of cataracts, and lead to the development of abnormal growths on the white of the eye.

Eye health begins on our plate by eating foods high in certain nutrients that nourish and protect our eyes, such as:


  • Vitamin C: citrus fruits, papaya, cantaloupe, tomato juice, strawberries, broccoli and green peppers
  • Vitamin E: nuts (almonds, peanuts), sunflower seeds, corn oil, whole grains and eggs
  • Vitamin A: fortified dairy products, eggs, liver. 
  • Beta-carotene: spinach and other dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, deep orange fruits (apricots, cantaloupe) and vegetables (winter squash, carrots, sweets potatoes and pumpkin)
  • Zinc: meat, poultry, fish, whole grains and dairy products
  • Polyphenols: Dark Chocolate


Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna and other oily fish fit the bill.


Eat dark leafy vegetables (kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens), broccoli, peas, and yellow/ orange vegetables and fruits (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, peaches, orange bell pepper, tangerines and yellow corn).

Lutein also is found in egg yolks and avocados.


This can be found in tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya, apricots and guava.


You know these — eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, meats and dairy products.

Additionally, when spending time outdoor wear sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays, wraparound lenses, polarized lenses to reduce glare when driving, and choose contact lenses that offer UV protection.

Finally, drink enough water to prevent overall dehydration and dry eyes.