Vitamin A Supplements & Vision
Vitamin A plays a key and well-known role in helping your eyes see, especially at night. However, when it comes to age-related vision loss, the science is less clear on the benefits of Vitamin A supplements.
Professionally Reviewed by Charles Li, MD


Vitamin A Supplements & Vision

1. Your Eyes Need Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a key and well-known role in helping your eyes see, especially at night.

2. Age Related Vision Loss

However, when it comes to age-related vision loss, the science is less clear on the benefits of Vitamin A supplements.

3. Antioxidants

Clinical trials have shown that antioxidants such as zinc and lutein from vegetables may actually matter more.

The Science

Vitamin A & Vision
Vitamin A plays a key role in vision. Your eyes need it to properly see in the dark.
Key Facts
Vitamin A
Key Facts
Key Facts
  • Type
    Fat soluble
  • Source
  • Other Names
    Retinol, retinyl ester
Key Sources


Sweet Potatoes


Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a key role in our black and white and night vision.


Vitamin A helps your immune system fight off disease.

Cell Growth

Vitamin A helps your cells grow and develop properly, particularly in young children.

How Vitamin A Helps Vision

Your body gets Vitamin A from your diet. Vitamin a gets converted into rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is used by your rod cells in your retina. The retina turns light into signals for your brain to interpret.

Study 1

Vitamin A Combination for Age Related Eye Disease
The AREDS study used a combination supplement that included Vitamin A to try to prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration.
AREDS Study Results

A clinical trial found that a combination of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper significantly reduces the risk of moderate visual acuity loss. OR, 0.73; 99% CI, 0.54–0.99

What this means

Researchers found that Vitamin A, in combination with Zinc and other antioxidants, could reduce your risk of vision loss over time.

Data Source

"Those with extensive intermediate size drusen, at least 1 large druse, noncentral geographic atrophy in 1 or both eyes, or advanced AMD or vision loss due to AMD in 1 eye, and without contraindications such as smoking, should consider taking a supplement of antioxidants plus zinc such as that used in this study."

Source: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Trial of High-Dose Supplementation With Vitamins C and E, Beta Carotene, and Zinc for Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Vision Loss

Study 2

Vitamin A vs Lutein
In another study, researchers compared vitamin A and Lutein. They found that lutein from green leafy vegetables may actually be more beneficial for your eyes compard to Vitamin A from carrots.
Lutein vs. Beta-carotene

Researchers found that lutein showed significantly more protection against age-related macular degeneration than beta-carotene. (HR 0.76, 95% CI, 0.61-0.96; P = .02) This suggests that leafy green veggies may in fact be the way to go for eye and vision health.

What this means

While we need vitamin A for your vision, lutein may actually be the better supplement for preventing vision loss. Those who received lutein had a significantly lower risk of age-related macular degeneration. Eating your veggies will always be a good thing!

More Info

Research suggests that Antioxidants may be a key for Age-related macular degeneration
Antioxidants: 3 Potential Benefits
Brain Power
Long term use may benefit cognition
Brain Power
Some studies have shown that taking antioxidants over many years can potentially lead to improvements in memory and verbal intelligence. However, this effect takes many years to manifest. More research is needed before we know for sure.
Potential risk reduction.
Some studies have shown that giving antioxidants to people who are deficient in certain antioxidant nutrients may help prevent cancer. But, the effect is not large and the research is mixed.
May protect against aging.
Certain antioxidants, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, and lutein, have been shown to potentially protect the eye from age-related vision deterioration (macular degeneration).

More Info

What are the benefits of Vitamin A?

"Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is essential to the formation of visual purple in the retina, which allows vision in dim light. Beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A found in vegetables, has antioxidant properties, which means it protects cells from the daily toxic damage of oxidation. "

What are the risks of taking too much Vitamin A?

"Chronic intakes of excess vitamin A lead to increased intracranial pressure (pseudotumor cerebri), dizziness, nausea, headaches, skin irritation, pain in joints and bones, coma, and even death"

How does rhodopsin work?

"Rhodopsin is the light receptor in rod photoreceptor cells of the retina that initiates scotopic vision. In the dark, rhodopsin is bound to the chromophore 11-cis retinal, which locks the receptor in an inactive state. The maintenance of an inactive rhodopsin in the dark is critical for rod photoreceptor cells to remain highly sensitive."