Which Foods Help Dry Eyes?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, March 17, 2021

Over 50% of all adults experience dry eyes.

Other than dryness of the eye, symptoms of dry eye include burning, irritation and grittiness. While studies have shown that certain foods help the eyes stay hydrated, there are certain fatty acids, vitamins, and trace elements that can be added to your diet.

Yes, there are foods that are not only good for overall health but also improve the quality of tears and eye comfort.

Omega fatty acids

If the outer layer of the lubricating tear film is disrupted, it leads to dry eye symptoms like redness, itchiness, and burning.

Omega fatty acids are responsible for stabilizing the oil layer in the tear film, making them important for lubricating your eyes.

In addition, omega fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, so both Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential nutrients.

Foods high in omega fatty acids include:

  • Fish: mackerel, cod, trout, herring, salmon
  • Oils: canola oil, rapeseed oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower oil, walnut oil
  • Meat: pork, beef and lamb
  • Dairy: cheese and milk products

Contact an eye doctor near you, if you would like to find out more about other foods which contain vitamins that are good for your dry eyes.

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There are a number of vitamins that also can help boost general eye health and dry eye.

Vitamin A (retinol)

Vitamin A deficiency, which usually occurs in developing countries, can cause an increase in dry eye. Adding foods rich in Vitamin A like pumpkins, apricots, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, dairy products, and liver can help. It also helps protect the surface of the eye.

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 is found in avocados, broccoli, whole-grain products and dairy products. It also protects the eyes from cell damage.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is found in foods such as goose, potatoes, kale, salmon, mackerel, and sardines. It is needed for a functioning tear film.

Vitamin B12

Foods which contain Vitamin B12 are beef liver, calf’s liver, pork liver, and mackerel. It is also found in smaller amounts in dairy products and eggs. It is also important for lubricating the eye.

Vitamin C

Broccoli, rosehip, acerola berries, peppers, and Brussels sprouts all contain Vitamin C. It protects against oxidative stress, and plays an important role in maintaining a functioning tear film.

Vitamin E

Mackerel, wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, spinach, peppers, mangos, and red currants all contain Vitamin E. It is required to protect your eyes against cell damage as well as dry eyes.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that help prevent many chronic eye diseases including dry eye. They also keep cells functioning correctly and healthy. Foods rich in these antioxidants include leafy greens like kale, spinach and romaine lettuce. They can be found as supplements.


Zinc plays an important role in keeping eyes healthy. Zinc is responsible for transporting vitamin A from the liver to the retina. It also produces melanin, a pigment that protects your eyes. Zinc can be found in whole grains, dairy, sweet corn, peas, lentils, and nuts.

Drinking Water Hydrates Your Eyes

While water is not a vitamin drinking water is important for the eyes. Staying hydrated can help improve eye comfort. Water is great for your skin, kidneys, bowels, and your eyes.

Staying hydrated and eating healthy helps to ensure that your eyes get the minerals and vitamins they need.

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Contact an eye doctor near you to learn more about what you can be doing to alleviate your dry eye symptoms.

To relieve dry eye symptoms adding nutrients to your diet can help. It is always best to consult your eye doctor before taking any supplements or making major changes to your diet.