What Foods and Supplements Are Good for Your Eyes?

Does the supplement industry have our good health in mind more so than the pharmaceutical industry?

Are we better off eating nutritious foods to get maximum nutrition, and skipping supplements altogether?

Or is there a reason we need supplementation?

Are there other factors leading to poor health?

My Take on Supplements in General

First, I want to be clear that I’m skeptical about supplements. I believe that the human body is capable of transforming chemicals in surprising ways into many things it needs, and that nutritionists don’t understand everything.

The good thing is when you experiment with taking the wrong supplements, as long as you keep the doses reasonable and stay aware of signs you’re taking too much, it’s usually easier on your body than taking medication.

I’ve accumulated two drawers full of supplements that I might never use. It’s hard to tell what’s useful. I’ve taken every vitamin we know of, and many other things. It’s probably mostly nonsense. I almost never feel any different. They might be useless and go right through me.

The fact is that nutritionists can’t see what’s going on inside your body. The best they can do is note symptoms.

Blood tests are not always useful! Much of it is wizardry, relying on typical ranges, impressive looking data sheets, and important-sounding testing labs.

A blood test tells what they find in your blood. That’s not very helpful. Maybe your blood has low levels of a nutrient because your body is doing really well in some way such that it isn’t needed. Maybe your blood has high levels of the nutrient because your body recently stole a high amount of it from your body’s cells, which desperately needed it also, to put in the blood for some more urgent reason.

Guaranteed that when there’s some kind of study or report that a certain substance is good for treating some condition, the supplement companies will be all over it, making bottles of it, promoting it as a treatment, giving away bottles to Amazon customers for positive reviews, sponsoring articles by “unbiased” bloggers to promote it, and so on. It’s all marketing, and there doesn’t have to be any substance behind it.

Magnesium for Vision

I heard about Carolyn Dean, a medical and naturopathic doctor who highly recommends magnesium supplementation. She describes an impressive number of conditions that her patients have used magnesium for with success.

Among the symptoms of low magnesium are eye twitches, muscle tension, and headaches. Sound familiar? With vision problems you might experience these symptoms frequently. These aren’t necessarily from low magnesium, but those symptoms stood out to me.

Some forms of magnesium are not very bioavailable, meaning they are not absorbed by your body and instead act as a laxative (causing diarrhea). This is the case for magnesium sulfate (epsom salt), magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide.

Magnesium glycinate has a high bioavailability, and it’s meant to help muscle relaxation and mental calm. Spot on for our purposes. You can take a ton of it without any laxative effects.

I was getting muscle cramps and had trouble sleeping, so I’ve been taking the Doctor’s Best brand of magnesium glycinate for the last month. Any brand might be fine. I picked it based on the price per milligram, and the form of magnesium.

After a month of taking 800mg per day, the upper limit that Dr. Dean recommends, I have noticed no laxative effects or other negative effects. I’m not a small guy, so I always expect to move up to the max dose.

I don’t recommend you do a dose that high. Keep in mind that I’m the type of person that doesn’t easily get an upset stomach from supplements or strange food. I don’t feel any effects at all from most supplements. In a rare emergency with an injury, I have to exceed the maximum dosage of pain pills to feel relief. If that doesn’t sound like you, keep your dose lower.

As far as positive effects, the first thing was I started sleeping better. I believe it’s because of the magnesium. I have also noticed less joint popping in my ankles, and I’m a little bit more flexible without having to stretch as much. I’m not totally convinced that this is from the magnesium, but it’s the only other thing I noticed. Still getting muscle cramps in my back though!

I didn’t need the magnesium for my vision, and it hasn’t hurt my vision. So I can’t speak much to that.

I’m a coffee addict, and the large doses of caffeine could be counteracting a lot of effects I might be getting.

Dr. Dean has a supplement called ReMag, a liquid magnesium chloride, which is another form of magnesium that has high bioavailability. That might be worth a try for you if you don’t mind paying a little more, because I tend to think of liquid supplements for anything as having better absorption than tablets.

Carrots and Bilberries

During World War II, the German planes kept doing nighttime bombing runs on England. The British responded by doing mass blackouts at night so that the Germans couldn’t find the targets.

The British Royal Air Force started spotting and shooting down the German bombers before they could come across the English Channel.

While they did so, the British also put out a bunch of advertisements that eating carrots would greatly help night vision, specifically during blackouts, and depicting British soldiers on the ads.

The theory goes that this was British propaganda meant to reach the Germans, concealing the fact that the British were testing new radar technology that would spot the German planes that were approaching. This would buy the British some time while the Germans obsessively consumed carrots to try to even the odds. Funny.

There were a good pile of ads like this during WWII.

I’ve also heard this same story but with bilberry instead of carrots. However, there are many saved copies of ads like the above, and nothing for bilberry.

Bilberries are the exact same berries that we call huckleberries in the US. I ate tons of naturally growing huckleberries as a kid. However, there are no stories out there about huckleberries and vision, while you can find hundreds of articles online about bilberries and vision. It’s because it’s a bunch of nonsense that gets repeated. Bilberries sound more exotic to Americans.

This claim about carrots helping night vision was never later confirmed by the British government, and you don’t see pilots everywhere, or anyone else who does night work, eating huckleberries, carrots, or supplements thereof.

I don’t believe an innocuous berry is going to have that kind of effect on night vision. If the berry were psychoactive, at least that would be something. This is just another normal edible berry. Berries are packed full of nutrients, but still.

Like other berries, huckleberries have antioxidants, which are supposed to be good for many problems in the body associated with inflammation. I don’t doubt that people taking huckleberries for eye or vision problems have seen improvements. The placebo effect is very powerful, and it’s hard to sort out whether the huckleberries itself had any effect. Reportedly there is evidence that it has helped with retinal inflammation. Has anyone compared that to taking, say, blueberries or strawberries? I don’t know. The takeaway might be that berries in general are good.

Blood Sugar and Vision

High blood sugar – they say – causes fluid to leak into the lens area of your eye, causing the lens to swell, throwing off its focus and making you myopic (or more so). This goes away when your blood sugar goes back down.

It also can cause the retina to swell, which is diabetic retinopathy.

On the other hand, one thing we know that the medical establishment does not is the eyes’ focus frequently changes over the short term without blood sugar issues, particularly when someone with a refractive error does not wear glasses or is working on improving his vision. So don’t get the idea that you must have diabetes just because your vision goes in and out.

Of course, too high blood sugar is not a good thing. It causes chaos everywhere, and that probably includes the eyes.

Eating processed sugar or too much starch can lead to blood sugar spikes for many people.

Eye Diseases and Conditions

The medical establishment’s position is that supplements for macular degeneration won’t reverse it but might reduce the risk of developing it somewhat. That’s pretty much their position on everything: You’re doomed.

Try Googling “macular degeneration supplements” or a similar query, and they give you results from medical establishment sites like WebMD and others. If you search on another engine like Bing or DuckDuckGo, your results are very different; lots more interesting content that is outside the mainstream. Google made this change in 2018, demoting all alternative health sites in favor of mainstream medical establishment sites. Yep, they demoted iblindness.org pretty hard too. We’re pretty far outside the mainstream.

Nancy has a post about what you can try for dry eyes. Studies showed that people with myopia have more evidence of dry eyes, and that Saudis with myopia had dry eyes more often than those without myopia.

Dry eye, myopia, and other conditions are often all related.

What to Do?

So how do you tell what foods or supplements are best? Is there a good test?

Yes! Pay attention to how you feel. Take notes.

If you pay close enough attention, you will be able to note a change. If your energy level increases, it’s probably the right food or supplement for you. You can follow the best diet theories, but if you don’t feel right after giving a diet a good try, it’s probably not for you. Low energy is always going to be bad for your vision.

On the other hand, if you go on a fast or a low-calorie restricted diet and you notice positive changes in your vision, the issue is probably something you were eating that your body can’t handle more so than a lack of nutrition.

Factory farming and modern food processing has depleted soils of vitamins and minerals that we used to get more of. That’s the main reason why supplementation is supposed to be necessary, or at least it’s the marketing gimmick the supplement companies use. I can’t give you a definite answer about things like this. I just don’t know. The more I read about nutrition, the more it all seems like nonsense.

In college I had a roommate who wore -6.00D contacts for myopia. She told me about how back in Japan her vision had improved when she went on a vegetable diet, but after a month she went back to her heavily rice-based diet and her vision reverted back. I don’t know why she went back to it, but I’m guessing her rice diet felt more comfortable, or her myopia was severe enough that some vision improvement wasn’t enough to have any effect on her need to wear contacts.

Nutrition, or avoiding foods that are causing problems, might help your vision somewhat, but it isn’t going to be the answer you’re looking for. Like my former roommate, you aren’t looking for partial improvement. You’re looking to get away from glasses entirely, right?

The fact is that people with myopia have more problems with their eyes than those without. It has to do with the strain you’re putting your eyes and whole visual system under when you use them in the wrong way.

The Bates method and other related approaches to vision improvement that this site promotes are all about learning to use your eyes in a more relaxed, natural way that leads to good vision. Tons of problems can manifest when you’re straining your eyes. The visual system is a delicate system that handles lots of data and makes lots of adjustments. It can only do this well when you don’t have habits that try to force it into working in a way that it isn’t designed for.

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I founded iblindness.org in 2002 as I began reading books on the Bates Method and became interested in vision improvement. I believe that everyone who is motivated can identify the roots of their vision problems and apply behavioral changes to solve them. I am into spirituality, lucid dreaming, archery, hang gliding, health and fitness. I own a gym equipment store and gym equipment blog.

Latest posts by David (see all)


Author: David

I founded iblindness.org in 2002 as I began reading books on the Bates Method and became interested in vision improvement. I believe that everyone who is motivated can identify the roots of their vision problems and apply behavioral changes to solve them. I am into spirituality, lucid dreaming, archery, hang gliding, health and fitness. I own a gym equipment store and gym equipment blog.

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Dr. λ, Creator of Variables, Binder of Variables,
Dr. λ, Creator of Variables, Binder of Variables,
9 months ago

Humans have a frugivorous body so it seems obvious that we should eat a vegan diet of mostly fruit. Though it took me a long time and a few failed diets before I understood this.

Dr. λ, Creator of Variables, Binder of Variables,
Dr. λ, Creator of Variables, Binder of Variables,
9 months ago
Reply to  David

When I buy fruit I sometimes buy fruit in different stages of ripeness. E.g. I buy some yellow bananas but also some green bananas. This way they won’t be ripe all at once. This is a good strategy to reduce the frequency of having to do groceries.

I also use smoothies made from frozen fruit. Frozen fruit is very flexible in when they are consumed and thus are easy too manage. They too can help reduce the amount of times one needs to do groceries. In addition, fruit that is going bad (like bananas too soft to be enjoyable but that still taste fine otherwise) are often still good for a smoothy. Smoothies may not be the most optimal for health, but I think it’s pretty close.

In the summer I also eat a lot of watermelons. We often buy 3 or 4 large watermelons at a time and then they last for about 5 to 7 days. Since we eat the watermelons from ripest to least ripe, only one watermelon needs to be able to last about 5 or 7 days in storage. The chance of that happening is pretty big. And otherwise it’ll probably still be good for a smoothy.

I also sometimes use pasteurised fruit juices. That’s probably pretty sub-optimal, but it’s tasty and easy to manage.

But we do often chug around a lot of fruit and we still buy fruit pretty frequently. So I see where you are coming from. In fact, I used to have a lot of trouble managing my own fruit supply as well when I just started out. And I still have to throw away fruit sometimes.

Now that I’m commenting anyway, I’d like to mention that I agree to some extend with eating what feels right to eat. I used to every day feel acid in my throat which was really painful. Even though bananas used to make me feel the acid, becoming a fruitarian solved this problem. Now I get a good feeling that’s kind of the opposite of the burning acid whenever I eat fruit (even bananas). I now trust almost anything that gives me that feeling, since it’s normally only fruit which does that. That’s why I sometimes drink pasteurised juices or take smoothies from frozen fruit. It makes me feel as if I ate fruit. Many sweet junkfood tastes like fruit but now makes me sick and thus it does not feel like fruit. It’s as if my body finally realises it’s just a bad imitation.

Listening to the body can be great but only when no addictions are involved. Think of a smoker, smoking his cigarette feels great to him but it’s not healthy. It’s just that his senses are sick as well. Though to someone with a healthy body smoking is gross and feels bad. So even with smoking it’s good to listen to the body as long as the body is clean enough to not be addicted.

9 months ago

Postscript: I should have mentioned as well that Dr. Chatterjee also told his diabetic patient to get plenty of exercise in addition to following a diabetic friendly diet initially. The exercise didn’t work either for his 52 year old patient but mindful eating certainly did.

10 months ago

Update: I have been hearing on the news all this morning about a teenager who became ‘blind’ after living of a junk food diet. Hard to believe it happens in the West but it is so. Here is just one link if anyone wants to look into this further. There is a very short discussion about supplements and vision for those on appallingly poor diets.


Also coincidentally I heard a few days ago a radio programme about Mindful Eating with a radio deejay chatting to a Dr. Rangan Chatterjee who has his own website if anyone again cares to look into it further. Anyway there was nothing in this chat specifically relating to vision, nevertheless as it concerns mind and eating I mention it here. Chatterjee’s most memorable comment to me was that he had a 52 year old male patient who presented with diabetes and he (the patient) was customarily given dietary and nutritional strategies to follow but to no avail. So Chatterjee give his patient instructions on how to eat mindfully , along with meditation and some deep breathing and within 3 weeks the man’s blood sugar came down.

There are a great number of books about Mindful Eating out there, some are very inexpensive and others are a little pricey. I have recently acquired one by a Dr Susan Albers for just a few pounds and it seems very good. I think she likes the idea of eating in silence without the TV or radio on so we can pay more attention to our food and eat more slowly and enjoy it more.

Mindfulness has been called Secular Buddhism since it is originally a Buddhist meditative practice which has been stripped of its religious origins and repackaged for the West as psychotherapy. In its modified form it is popular in the West and it seems to have found its place in medical circles and there are no shortage of books, courses, videos etc on mindfulness aimed at the general public.

Anyway I don’t want to preach but it can’t hurt to eat well if we can, and relax while we eat. Relaxation is a word with a deeper significance than many of us might be aware of.

10 months ago

I have to disagree to a point regarding both supplements and blood tests. Both can be beneficial if you understand the science behind them. For instance, my blood work showed a blood calcium of 12. This is at the high end of the normal range, so my doctor didn’t give it a second look. Since I am 58 years of age, my blood calcium should not have been above 10. Therefore, a calcium of 12 indicated to me one of the following:

1. I had plenty of calcium in my bones but had a high content in my blood because I was over supplementing
2. I was deficit of magnesium (which is a natural antagonist of calcium)
3. My parathyroid was not putting out enough hormone (PTH), which triggers vitamin-D to convert to an active form and move the calcium from my blood into my bones
4. I had inadequate stores of vitamin-D, so the calcium in my blood was leeching out of my bones

Against her objections, I got my doc to agree to run the following tests:

The magnesium was normal, the PTH was high, and the vitamin-D was low. In essence, my body detected a high blood calcium and was constantly releasing PTH to convert vitamin-D, so the calcium would move from my blood into my bones. However, there was not enough vitamin-D to convert. As a result, I continued to have a high blood calcium and my parathyroid continued to pump out PTH (hyper-parathyroidism).

The blood test information was critically helpful in having me reduce my calcium supplementation while increasing supplementation of vitamin-D3. If left unchecked (as my doctor would have done), then the end result would have been brittle bones and a burned out parathyroid gland. Again, both blood tests and supplementation allowed me to identify and correct what would have resulted in a life altering change to my health. I don’t blame my doc, with regulations the way they are, most docs are busy trying to save lives and keep up with paperwork than to keep up on the science of human health. Information is power, and with the right knowledge, both blood tests and supplements can be a life saver.

BTW, it’s worth noting that I am a 58 year old man who has no medical problems, takes no medications, has a a full dark head of hair, I have a blood pressure of 115/68, and I bike 6 miles 3 days a week and row 3000 meters on an erg with high impact strength training all other days except Sunday – while barely being winded. I took responsibility to learn about and be responsible for my own health in my late twenties. As a result, I physically aged about 10 years in the last thirty years. I look like I’m in my mid-thirties and can out-run, out-fight, and out-sex the average man in his thirties.

10 months ago

and no mention about hydrogen peroxide and it’s instant effect on improving vision and widening arteries! a believer would believe and go make sure, while who believes nothing, doubts everything and to him the bible is a fairy tale and that there is no heaven and hell, and that we are no different than monkeys!

10 months ago
Reply to  David

exactly! …..

10 months ago
Reply to  David

I agree with David, besides Vacheslav seems to be going on the assumption, like the ophthalmologists and nutritional supplements providers, that vision problems (in healthy eyes that are otherwise normal) have nothing to do with the mind whatever and any solution must come from without, not within. People who follow the Bates Method beg to differ.

10 months ago
Reply to  Vacheslav

Hmm. I’ve had tremendous success avoiding colds and flu ingesting food grade hydrogen peroxide at the first signs of an infection (100% success in the last two years). So, I’m open to seeing if there are any studies showing its ability to widen arteries. BTW: handling and ingesting hydrogen peroxide can be poisonous and cause burns. Please DO NOT ingest unless you use food grade hydrogen peroxide and take the time to learn the necessary precautions for handling, diluting, labeling, and proper storage.

10 months ago

I’m generally sceptical too about eye supplements. Look around you, there are plenty of people who seem to live on junk food but seem to have good vision (not that I’m supporting such a lifestyle). The placebo effect might well be operative in supplements like magnesium (as well as in orthodox medicines). We do all need Vitamin A (or its precursor beta-carotene) not only to see, but to stay alive and I think that some people who have low vitamin A status (say due to a damaged liver) might require supplementation, and I think that people are still going blind in certain parts of the world due to vitamin A deficiency. However as I said, at least in the developed parts of the world it’s not an issue. The media that I hear are always preaching at us about sugar, salt, exercise and so on but not about this. As regards the story about bilberries, I think it’s an urban myth, it gets repeated off and on and you can even hear medical people repeating it (perhaps if they have bilberry supplements to sell). I think I read somewhere that the bilberry story was British government disinformation aimed at the Nazis to keep them from knowing about the development of radar by the military and the effectiveness of RAF strikes on German targets. From a Batesian perspective, the major supplement we need for eye health is light. Many of us are sadly deprived of strong light and spend our lives in buildings and wear sunglasses when we’re out of doors and I think the general population could do with more light instead of nutritional eye supplements. What you said about your roommate was interesting David, if she had -6.00 myopia I assume she wore contacts/glasses throughout her waking hours. So I am wondering how she noticed how her vision improved when switching from rice to vegetables. Noticing over-correction through the lenses maybe? Again, we can find plenty of people out there on a high rice diet who can see very well indeed. The same is true for those on a high vegetable diet.

10 months ago
Reply to  David

Another thought: the orthodox ophthalmologists and the supplements guys both assume that vision problems are essentially to do with the eyes themselves, leaving no room for mind issues. Whether it’s glasses or bilberry tablets,the underlying assumption behind them is essentially the same, even if the approach is different.