When babies are born, they look at the world with blurry eyes. While newborn babies can only focus on nearby objects and people, their visual abilities reach adult levels by the time they are 1 year old. A healthy and balanced diet supports eye development during infancy and early childhood, when eye development is rapid. Lutein, zeaxanthin, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), ARA (arachidonic acid), vitamin A and vitamin E are important nutrients for the healthy development of a baby’s eyesight. Early in life, babies receive these essential nutrients through breast milk.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, natural pigments in foods that provide fruits and vegetables their bright hues. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants concentrated in the macula region located at the back of the eye and play an important role in eye development in babies. Kale, parsley, spinach, broccoli, peas, corn, egg yolk, orange, melon, kiwi, red pepper, pumpkin, grapes are important nutritional sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. For breastfed babies, breast milk is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin; the amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin in breast milk are proportional to the mother’s intake of foods that are sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.


DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) are the main omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in breast milk. DHA is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain and the retina of the eye, while ARA is the most abundant omega-6 fatty acid in the brain. DHA and ARA are important for the baby’s visual development. ARA is found in foods such as poultry, meat, fish, seafood and eggs. The best food source of DHA is oily fish. Salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and catfish are fish that are high in omega-3s and are less likely to be contaminated with mercury. It is of great importance for the healthy development of the baby that the mother receives adequate amounts of DHA through foods or supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Vitamin A and Vitamin E

Vitamin A and vitamin E are necessary for normal eye development. Vitamin A is abundant in green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli), orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin), eggs and melon. Vitamin E is found in foods such as vegetable oils, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spinach, broccoli, chard and avocado.


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  2. American Optometric Association. Infant vision: Birth to 24 Months of Age. https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-health-for-life/infant-vision?sso=y
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  6. American Academy of Ophthalmology. What Is Vitamin A Deficiency? https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/vitamin-deficiency