The vitamin that is essential to our eye health

chopping onions

The sunrise and sunset may be free, but their benefits toward eye care are priceless—if captured.

Vitamin D, a compound unlocked by the power of sunshine and essential for the absorption of calcium into the bones, also possesses a scope of healthful benefits for the eyes. From reduced risk of macular degeneration (which causes fuzziness) to improved tear function, vitamin D has been proven to affect our eyesight in many ways—some of which may be a surprise.

Vitamin D plays a major role in the life cycle of human cells and the retina. Research conducted in 2012 revealed that after 6 weeks of vitamin D supplementation, laboratory mice had reduced inflammation of the retina and improved vision, indicating vitamin D can be essential to eye care.1

Vitamin D deficiency is an increasing global problem, affecting an estimated 1 billion people.2 Research links low levels of vitamin D to:
1. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): Anyone who has experienced a noticeable change in his or her ability to thread a needle or read a road sign has likely experienced signs of macular degeneration, a disease that affects the part of the eye that enables us to see small details.3
2. Increased risk of diabetic retinopathy: One of the leading causes of blindness among adults, diabetic retinopathy—which involves the retina and blood vessels of the eye—is a common complication of diabetes.4 While the cause is still unclear, vitamin D may play a role based on how its affects various eye conditions, including inflammation, glucose tolerance and blood pressure.5
3. Dry eye syndrome and impaired tear function: Because research indicates vitamin D possesses anti-inflammatory properties, it could prevent dry eyes. Researchers also suggest vitamin D may help prevent dry eyes by producing a protein called cathelicid, which can help to heal eye wounds.6

Each of us has likely experienced our eyes being bigger than our stomachs, but our eyes can still benefit equally from what our stomachs take in. In addition to sunshine and supplements, many foods serve as good sources of vitamin D. Among them:7,8,9

• Fish: Cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and herring
• Nuts and seeds: Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
• Fruits and vegetables: Avocado, dark leafy vegetables such as spinach and collard greens, mushrooms
• Dairy: Swiss cheese, fortified milk and yogurt
• Other: Eggs and liver

Ideally, you could eat these foods in the sunshine, which like our eyesight, is priceless. With a good diet, you can help manage it to the letter.

1. “Vitamin D Can Save Your Eyesight,” Breaking
2. “Vitamin D Deficiency,”,
3. “Age-Related Macular Degeneration,” National Eye Institute,
4. “Action for Blind People,” Action for Blind,
5. Handbook of Nutrition, Diet and the Eye, Chapter 33, Vitamin D and Diabetic Retinopathy, John F. Payne and Vin Tangpricha, 2014
6. Vitamin D Council, New study suggests vitamin D deficiency is related to dry eye;
7. “Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals,” National Institutes of Health,
8. “10 Foods High in Vitamin D,” Global Healing Center,
9. “Vitamin D Rich Nuts,” Diet & Fitness Today