How to Improve Eyesight

Quitting smoking, following a healthy diet, and more

Maintaining good eye health is important for your overall quality of life. Eyesight can affect everything from reading and performing tasks at work to communicating with others.

If you have problems with your vision, there are ways to improve your eyesight naturally without lenses or surgery.

Natural remedies can't permanently fix conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. But healthy habits like regular exercise and eating a more nutritious diet can help improve your eye health and eyesight.

eye and letters

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Role of a Healthy Lifestyle

Having trouble with your eyesight is very common. About 12 million people aged 40 and older in the United States experience vision impairment of some kind. About 6.8% of children under the age of 18 have a diagnosed eye condition.

You may be eager to learn how to improve your eyesight in a week or a month. Unfortunately, it's usually not a quick fix. However, an easy way to address some vision problems is to adopt healthy lifestyle changes.

People who improved cardiovascular health with a heart-healthy diet and exercise have a lower risk of developing ocular diseases like age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

Eat a Healthy Diet

To prevent degenerative, potentially blinding conditions like glaucoma, your eyes need vitamins and nutrients.

Some vitamins and minerals contain antioxidants that can stop the progression of age-related macular degeneration. These include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc

Which fruit is good for eye health?

Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in many nutrients, including antioxidants (like vitamin C) that may help your eye health. Some examples of fruits rich in vitamin C include: berries, kiwi, oranges, and grapefruit.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are nutrients that you can find in green leafy vegetables and eggs. They can help reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for visual development and for the eye's retinal functioning.

You can find these crucial nutrients in common food items:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Walnuts, cold-water fish, and flaxseed
  • Zinc: Shellfish and red meat
  • Vitamin A: Cantaloupes, carrots, mangos, and sweet potatoes
  • Vitamin C: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and oranges
  • Vitamin E: Almonds, sunflower seeds, and peanut butter

Get Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is great for your overall health, particularly your eyes. One study showed that people who engaged in moderate exercise on a regular basis were 25% less likely to develop glaucoma.

Health conditions that can stem from a lack of physical activity and weight gain can significantly affect your eye health. For example, diabetic retinopathy can lead to vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is more common in people who have obesity. People who have diabetes should get a dilated eye exam once a year or more often, as indicated by their eye doctor. Diabetes can make you two to five times more likely to have cataracts and doubles the risk of having open-angle glaucoma.

Become more active and ultimately protect your eyes by incorporating:

  • Regular walks
  • Bike rides
  • Light, at-home workouts

Manage Health Conditions

Some chronic conditions can have an impact on your eye health. If you are managing a chronic condition, you should ask your healthcare provider how it affects your body as a whole.

Common conditions that can affect eye health include:

  • Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to diabetic retinopathy, which can cause diminished vision or blindness. Adopt physical activity and a diabetes-friendly diet to help manage the condition and avoid related vision problems.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure): High blood pressure can cause hypertensive retinopathy, which is blood vessel damage that can lead to blurry vision and blindness. Keep your blood pressure in control to avoid these eye conditions.

Other chronic conditions that can affect your sight include:

Chronic health conditions tend to be more common in older adults with vision impairment than in those with better eye health.

Contact your eye doctor and primary healthcare provider if you notice any changes to your vision, especially if you have a chronic condition linked to eye problems.

Visit Your Eye Doctor

If your vision seems to be changing gradually, visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist for an eye exam to assess your vision. They will be able to determine if it's a symptom of a more serious underlying condition.

Ask your eye doctor questions and tell them about any vision changes you experience. Your doctor may ask you questions like:

Adults without any risk factors for eye disease should have a baseline eye examination at age 40, and every two to four years until age 54. Adults aged 55 to 64 without risk factors for eye disease should have an eye examination every one to three years, and then every one or two years after that.

Seek emergency care if you experience:

Use Eye Protection

Do what you can to protect your eyes from harm. Ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun can greatly damage our eyes. Sun damage can contribute to cataract formation.

Wear sunglasses whenever you are outside, not just on sunny days. Your sunglasses should:

  • Provide 100% UV protection
  • Have scratch-resistant lenses
  • Be free of defects that can interfere with your vision
  • Have a large frame that covers most of the area around your eyes

After cataract surgery, it's especially important to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Rest Your Eyes

You should give your eyes a break regularly. Asthenopia, or eye strain, is when your eyes are sore, tired, or achy, especially after looking at a computer or phone screen for too long. It can happen when you use the muscles that control your eye movements for a long time.

20-20-20 rule

Rest your eyes using the 20-20-20 rule:

Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.

You can also rest your eyes by shifting the lighting in your room. Stay 25 inches away from a screen when you do stare at one.

Quit Smoking

Smoking can increase your risk of lung cancer and other conditions. It can also damage your vision. It can make your eyes scratchy, sting, or red.

Smoking can also increase the risk of:

  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Various eye diseases, leading to vision loss and blindness

Eye Exercises

Eye exercises can alleviate discomfort or irritation, but they won't cure eye diseases or correct vision.

Optometrists sometimes recommend vision therapy to develop or sharpen visual skills or change the ways people process visual information. It usually consists of exercises that are conducted during office visits and at home over the course of two months.

Depending on your condition, you may also be given training glasses, prisms, filtered targets, or balance boards to help test and improve your vision.

Different kinds of vision therapy include:

  • Orthoptic vision therapy: These include a series of exercises carried out weekly for several months. The exercises aim to improve binocular function and are instructed at the office and done at home.
  • Behavioral/perceptual vision therapy: Eye exercises can be done to improve visual processing.
  • Vision therapy: These exercises may prevent the progression of myopia (nearsightedness).

A Word from Verywell

Improving your eyesight is something you can control through lifestyle habits, such as eating healthily, exercising regularly, and using proper eye protection when exposed to the sun. It's important to stay on top of your eye health by getting regular eye exams, and if your vision suddenly changes or worsens, consult your eye doctor and have your eyes checked. This can help catch any eye issues early, and also give you peace of mind.

17 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders.

  2. Cruz NDL, Shabaneh O, Appiah D. The association of ideal cardiovascular health and ocular diseases among us adultsThe American Journal of Medicine. 2020;0(0). doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2020.06.004

  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Top Foods to Help Protect Your Vision.

  4. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin C fact sheet for health professionals.

  5. American Optometric Association. Diet and nutrition.

  6. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Exercise for Eyes and Vision.

  7. National Eye Institute. Diabetic Retinopathy.

  8. American Diabetes Association. Eating Doesn't Have to Be Boring.

  9. American Heart Association. The Eyes Have It for High blood Pressure Clues.

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vision Impairment and Chronic Health Conditions.

  11. Söderberg PG, Talebizadeh N, Yu Z, Galichanin K. Does infrared or ultraviolet light damage the lens?Eye (Lond). 2016;30(2):241–246. doi:10.1038/eye.2015.266

  12. Roberts JE. Ultraviolet radiation as a risk factor for cataract and macular degenerationEye Contact Lens. 2011;37(4):246-9. doi:10.1097/ICL.0b013e31821cbcc9

  13. American Academy of Ophthalmology. How to Pick the Best Sunglasses to Protect Your Eyes.

  14. Stanford Health Care. Eye Strain.

  15. New York State Department of Health. Smoking Can Lead to Vision Loss and Blindness.

  16. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Smoking and Eye Disease.

  17. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Vision Therapy.

By Brian Mastroianni
Brian Mastroianni is a health and science journalist based in New York. His work has been published by The Atlantic, The Paris Review, CBS News, The TODAY Show, Barron's PENTA, Engadget and Healthline, among others.