A family of photoreactive retinaldehyde-derived molecules accumulate in retinal pigment epithelial cells with age; this accumulation is implicated in some retinal diseases. One of these compounds is the diretinal fluorophore A2E. Here we compared polyphenols for their ability to suppress the photooxidation and photodegradation of A2E. In cells that had accumulated A2E and were irradiated with short-wavelength light, quercetin, cyanidin-3-glucoside, ferulic acid and chlorogenic acid diminished cellular levels of reactive oxygen species, but only quercetin and cyanidin-3-glucoside promoted cell viability. By chromatographic quantitation, quercetin and cyanidin-3-glucoside reduced the consumption of A2E by photooxidation in both cell- and cell-free assays. With ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, quercetin and cyanidin-3-glucoside also inhibited the formation of photooxidized-A2E species. While photodegradation of A2E is known to result in the release of reactive carbonyls, we demonstrated that quercetin and cyanidin-3-glucoside decreased the formation of methylglyoxal adducts in the cells, and reduced the expression of mRNA encoding receptor for advanced glycation end products. These polyphenols also protected glutathione from reaction with photooxidized A2E. In rod outer segments incubated with all-trans-retinal to generate bisretinoid, followed by irradiation, quercetin and cyanidin-3-glucoside reduced release of the lipid peroxidation product 4-hydroxynonenal. In conclusion, quercetin and cyanidin-3-glucoside can guard against photooxidative processes in retina.