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Though many are unaware, our nation is facing an eye care epidemic. Since smartphones, tablets, and laptops have become commonplace in the average American home, our digital screen time has increased exponentially. (In fact, a recent Statista survey reveals that almost half of respondents spend about five to six hours on their phone daily.)
Even if you have 20/20 vision without wearing any type of corrective lenses, the ability to read highway signs isn't the single factor defining how well you care for your eyes. As it turns out, excessive screen use can lead to tired, dry, fatigued eyes, affecting our ability to focus, eye function, and even vision longevity later in life.
Luckily, there are actionable steps we can take to bolster eye nutrition and foster vision longevity—including adding a comprehensive eye health supplement to our daily routine.* Here, we've outlined the vision-supporting nutrients to look out for and identified the most innovative eye health supplements available on the market today.
Vitamins that support eye health.
There are a number of nutrients that support eye health and longevity, and most of them aren't vitamins at all. In fact, there are myriad bioactives that promote eye function and visual performance—including essential vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, key carotenoids, and other phytonutrients.
"Diet is a key lifestyle factor that can have long-term effects on ocular health. More specifically, the American Optometric Association—as well as scientists from the academic domain—have clearly acknowledged the role of key nutrients in supporting eye health and vision performance," explains Deshanie Rai, Ph.D., FACN, vice president of scientific & regulatory affairs at OmniActive Health Technologies.
"These include vitamins A, C, D, and E; zinc and copper; the macular carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin; and omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, it's important to ensure that we're consuming adequate levels of these nutrients through our daily diets,"* Rai notes.
Optometrist and author of What You Must Know About Food and Supplements for Optimal Vision Care Jeffrey Anshel, O.D., FAAO, adds another type of macular carotenoid to the list: meso-zeaxanthin.
"Lutein is converted to another form [of zeaxanthin] called meso-zeaxanthin. The tricky part is that meso-zeaxanthin is not in the normal diet—it's found in shrimp shells, fish skin, and turtle shells," Anshel says, explaining the need for adequate lutein (and zeaxanthin) through diet and supplementation to make sure you get enough of these essential macular carotenoids.
But vision-critical carotenoids don't end with lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin. According to Anshel, astaxanthin is also essential for eye health, as it affects ocular blood flow and promotes overall longevity—especially in our modern digital world.* "They've done studies with astaxanthin to show it does help people who are looking at computer screens all day," he shares, noting astaxanthin's ability to support reset and recovery.*
Karen Hecht, Ph.D., scientific affairs manager at AstaReal, adds that astaxanthin has also been a staple in eye health research conducted in Asia and Europe. The problem? The American diet doesn't support sufficient intake of this eye-critical carotenoid.
"The average American falls short of consuming the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, which contribute to 90% of dietary carotenoid intake. Astaxanthin is unique among carotenoids, in that it is not found in fruit and vegetables. Instead, astaxanthin is primarily found in wild salmon," Hecht explains. "Based on average consumption of salmon among Americans, it's estimated that diet alone provides 11 milligrams of astaxanthin annually."
With all these critical eye nutrients and a serious gap in the average American diet, the need for a comprehensive, daily eye supplement with targeted formulation is clear.
Do eye supplements work?
Experts say yes—and add that they're not only helpful but critical given the modern stressors our eyes are subject to.
"Eyes are exposed to physiological and environmental factors that trigger free radical production. That's why dietary antioxidants—including vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin—have long been studied by the National Eye Institute," says Hecht. "The important things to look for are bioactive ingredients that can cross the blood-retinal barrier and are supported by double-blind placebo-controlled studies that have demonstrated eye health benefits in healthy participants."
The thing is, like all dietary supplements, finding an effective, high-quality eye supplement can be difficult (to say the least). Here are the top criteria we used while seeking the top eye supplements to include in this list.
How we picked these supplements:
Your eyes are critical and metabolically active organs that require daily support from nutrients and phytonutrients that promote antioxidant protection, blue light filtering, ocular blood flow, lubrication, visual acuity, and more.
Your body should be approached with great care (especially your eyes). We chose supplements from brands that prioritize analytical quality testing to ensure the purity and potency of each product in their portfolio.
While a foundation of old-school nutrients (think: vitamins A, C, and E; zinc; and copper) are pivotal for daily eye support, our product selections also feature the "new-school" plant ingredients—i.e., powerhouse carotenoids, polyphenol-laden berries, and more.
Many of the most famous vision supplements include multiple synthetic dyes, opacity agents (e.g., titanium dioxide), corn syrup, and other low-quality ingredients. We have intentionally avoided products with synthetic dyes, artificial flavors, chemical preservatives, and other cheap, unnecessary excipients.
mbg's picks for best eye supplements of 2022:
Best overall vision support: mindbodygreen eye health+
- Plant-powered formula
- Targeted retinal and macular support*
- Promotes blue-light filtering*
- Aids dry eye lubrication*
- Not for children
Chock-full of botanicals (i.e., phytonutrient antioxidant powerhouses) that promote healthy eye function and longevity, our plant-powered formula delivers daily, targeted retinal and macular support to improve visual sharpness and acuity, bolster ocular blood flow, and promote dry eye lubrication.
The heroes here are three famous eye-supporting carotenoids that help combat oxidative stress; astaxanthin fights eye strain and fatigue to enhance visual performance, while macular carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin act like "internal sunglasses" to reduce light sensitivity, promote blue-light filtering and photoprotection, and support eye strain reset and recovery from screen fatigue.
This array of vision longevity botanicals is rounded out by supporting players Patagonian maqui berry (to promote eye hydration and fight against dryness caused by excessive screen time) and saffron (to support photoreceptor cells and reduce eye pressure) for a truly comprehensive formula that will support your eyes today, tomorrow, and way down the road.*
Best high-potency astaxanthin: Sports Research Triple Strength Astaxanthin
- No artificial ingredients or fillers
- Enhanced absorption
- Not for children
- Plastic bottle
Whether we realize it or not, staring at our computer screens while we work (and smartphone or tablet screens while we play) uses our near vision, which can put a strain on our eye muscles and cause ocular fatigue. Antioxidant powerhouse astaxanthin helps our eyes focus and refocus while working on our screens—and aids reset and recovery when we step away from them.
This high-potency astaxanthin supplement delivers 12 milligrams of sustainably sourced Icelandic astaxanthin with organic virgin coconut oil (for enhanced absorption) in just one daily softgel. *
Best high-potency lutein & zeaxanthin: Bulletproof Eye Armor™
- Promotes blue-light protection*
- Reduces glare sensitivity*
- Long list of "other" ingredients
- Plastic bottle
Of all the vision-supporting nutrients you can add to your supplementation routine, lutein and zeaxanthin are at the top of the list. These macular carotenoids not only promote blue-light filtering and photoprotection (an increasingly important benefit thanks to modern digital screen use), but they also combat eye strain and fatigue, increase ocular antioxidant activity, and enhance overall visual performance.
This high-potency eye supplement delivers 20 milligrams of lutein and 4 milligrams of zeaxanthin to block blue-light burnout and improve overall visual function, plus additional eye-supporting antioxidants (astaxanthin, bilberry extract, and vitamin A) to combat ocular oxidative stress.*
Best multi with complete carotenoid complex: mindbodygreen ultimate multivitamin+
- Eye-focused vitamins
- Vision longevity carotenoids
- Higher price point (due to comprehensive formula)
In addition to all the essential vitamins and minerals you need for whole-body health, our multi delivers a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and botanicals that promote eye function and vision longevity: Vitamins A, C, and E deliver potent antioxidant actions that fight free radicals in the eye and support overall ocular health and function; trace minerals zinc and copper promote retinal function; and longevity phytonutrients lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene (which are innovative and unique additions to a multi) help combat oxidative stress in the eye and throughout the body. For a holistic daily multivitamin that specifically targets eye health and supports visual performance, this multi can't be beat!*
Best for dry eye support: Life Extension Tear Support with MaquiBright®
- High-potency maqui berry
- Promotes tear production*
- Manufactured in the USA
- Long list of "other" ingredients
- Plastic bottle
Thanks to modern screen use, eye dryness is more prevalent than ever before. Why? People tend to blink less when staring at a screen for extended periods of time (like, say, an entire workday), which affects the tear film and can lead to tired, sore eyes. Maqui berries have been clinically shown to promote tear production and enhance overall eye hydration. With 60 milligrams of maqui berry extract, this highly potent supplement helps aid eye lubrication from the inside out to support overall eye comfort and ease while wearing contacts, using a computer, or dealing with other environmental factors that can contribute to occasional eye dryness.*
Best for eye blood vessel support: Thorne O.P.C.-100™
- Antioxidant support*
- Promotes healthy circulation*
- Up to 3 capsules throughout the day
- Contains soy (food allergen)
- Plastic bottle
What the heck does the health of your blood vessels have to do with eye function, you ask? Well, nutrients and oxygen are transported throughout the body via blood vessels—including those that make their way to the eye. Proper blood flow and blood vessel integrity are critical for getting our eyes the nutrients they need, when they need them.
This formula contains 100 milligrams of grapeseed extract, which contains oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) that help scavenge free radicals to inhibit oxidative stress and protect the integrity and function of blood vessels in the eye, so your peepers can function well for years to come.*
Best botanical eye blend: Pure Synergy Eye Protector®
- 17 eye-nourishing botanicals
- Doses unclear for some ingredients
- Relatively low-dose astaxanthin
At mbg, we love a good plant-powered formula—and this supplement is positively teeming with 17 (!) botanically derived carotenoids (e.g., lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and astaxanthin), flavonoids (e.g., elderberry, bilberry, and grapeseed), and enzymes (e.g., kale, watercress, and SOD) that support the health and longevity of the retina, cornea, and eye blood vessels. Packed with plants that increase antioxidant activity, this formula helps eyes handle the environmental stressors common to modern life (think blue light, excessive screen use, and even air pollution) by helping nourish, cleanse, and protect your eyes now and down the road.*
Best AREDS-inspired formula: Pure Encapsulations EyeProtect Basics
- Offered in formulas with and without zinc
- No artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners
- Basic eye nutrients
- Plastic bottle
If you aren't already familiar, AREDS and AREDS2 are clinical trials sponsored by the National Eye Institute that established a number of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients crucial for maintaining eye health and vision longevity—especially late in life. This AREDS-inspired formula contains all of these critical nutrients (i.e., vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin) in efficacious doses and optimally bioavailable forms (per AREDS) to support eye integrity and help maintain the health and function of the retina and macula.*
Best fish oil: mindbodygreen omega-3 potency+
- High-potency EPA + DHA formula
- No fishy aftertaste
- ORIVO 3rd-party certification
- Contains fish (food allergen)
Did you know the highest concentration of DHA is found in the retina? DHA is a major structural lipid that makes up the outer segment membranes of the retinal photoreceptor cells and supports faster response to stimulation and optimal visual sensation to literally help us see clearly!
Your daily must-have essential for brain health and eye function, this omega-3 supplement delivers critical neuroprotective fatty acids EPA and DHA to promote eye integrity, visual acuity, retinal and macular health, and overall ocular function. With 1,500 milligrams of EPA plus DHA in their triglyceride form (i.e., the optimal, most bioavailable form) sustainably sourced from 100% wild-caught, cold-water anchovies from the South Pacific (with third-party-verified ORIVO certification).
Best eye care gummy: MaryRuth Organics Eye Care Gummies
- Long list of "other" ingredients
- Plastic bottle
If you're looking for an eye supplement that can sweeten your day, this strawberry-flavored gummy is for you! With 5 milligrams of lutein and 0.25 milligram of zeaxanthin, this plant-powered, kid-friendly supplement is free of GMOs and other major allergens, so you can add a boost of vision-supporting antioxidants to your daily routine.
Like all gummy supplements, the list of "other" ingredients is long here but relatively clean. For example, an organic fruit powder blend is added for flavor, and black carrot is included for natural color.
Eye supplement FAQs
What time of the day should I take an eye supplement?
The best time to take your eye supplement is when you'll remember to. Consistent, daily use is more important than timing, as a daily eye health regimen supports optimal levels of vision-supporting nutrients in the body to provide vision and whole-body health benefits.*
Ultimately, the time of day is up to you. That said, we do suggest taking your daily eye supplement with a meal or soon after (i.e., within 30 minutes of a meal). Reason being: Many of the eye supplements on this list are chock full of carotenoids (including astaxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and saffron crocins and crocetins), which are fat-soluble phytonutrient compounds by nature. Taking this supplement around the time or soon after a meal helps facilitate optimal absorption of these plant bioactives.*
Why would I need or consider a targeted eye health supplement?
We have an epidemic of tired and undernourished eyes. We’re visually burned out. With the increase in screen time that pandemic life and remote work ushered in, we are increasingly dealing with more eye health challenges—such as major blue light exposure and screen fatigue, which can lead to tired, strained, and dry eyes over time. While digital devices come with their perks (work, entertainment, convenience, keeping us connected), they aren’t going away anytime soon, which equals a greater need for intentional, targeted, and science-backed protection and nourishment of our eyes.
Along with the stresses of screen time and digital device use, our eyes are also extremely busy and one of the most metabolically active organs in the body! This makes them highly susceptible to oxidative stress (via toxins, free radicals, etc.) from light (indoor and outdoor), pollutants, air temperature, and more. It’s essential for our eyes to have a curated suite of daily nutrients and phytonutrients to meet the demands of both our environment and our eyes’ biological processes.
What are carotenoids?
Carotenoids are a unique class of powerful phytonutrient pigments (think yellow, orange, and red) found in a variety of plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria that offer whole-body health benefits. Carotenoids are classified into different groups: carotenes (e.g., beta carotene—a form of vitamin A), xanthophylls (e.g., lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin), and a unique carotenoid category known as apocarotenoids that includes saffron flower bioactives crocin and crocetin.*
As a nation, our eyes are hungry for these plant ingredients because they represent a major gap in the American diet (due to low fruit, vegetable, and seafood intake). Top food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are leafy greens, while red seafood—i.e., salmon, lobster, crayfish, and shrimp—are the top food sources of astaxanthin (which they get from algae). All of these are majorly underconsumed in the U.S. Since humans don’t have the physiological machinery to synthesize carotenoids on their own, consuming carotenoids from a nutrient-dense diet and quality supplement regimen daily is critical to reap their many benefits!*
When it comes to eye health ingredients, what's the difference between an eye supplement and a multivitamin?
Multivitamins and targeted eye supplements provide complementary ingredients for eye health and visual performance. For example, the foundational eye health ingredients we intentionally and comprehensively feature in mbg’s ultimate multivitamin+ include vitamin A (in beta-carotene and retinol formats), vitamin C, vitamin E, riboflavin, zinc, copper, and even lutein and zeaxanthin (this is unique for a multivitamin).*
While these essential nutrients provide daily foundational nutrition support for women and men, a comprehensive eye supplement like mbg’s eye health+ that includes targeted visual performance plant bioactives via high-potency carotenoids, maqui berry, and saffron can take your vision support to the next level.
Thanks to the digital stressors of modern life, our eyes need extra attention now more than ever. Utilize this guide to find an eye supplement that supports your eyes' daily needs and promotes vision longevity later in life.*
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.