Do Carrots Improve Eyesight

Do Carrots Improve Eyesight

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What’s the deal with the old adage to “eat your carrots because they help you to see better at night”? Fact or fiction? True or false?

This old wive’s tale is a myth that was started in World War II by British Intelligence who spread rumors that their pilots had remarkable night vision because they ate so many carrots. The reason behind this successful rumor campaign was to hide the fact from the Nazis that their planes were using radar as WWII was the first time radar was used in combat.  They were pretending that the accuracy rate from their pilots was from fantastic vision, not because they had new technology.

Despite the fact that it is openly acknowledged as being untrue nowadays, the myth continues to persist that carrots improve eyesight, particularly when it comes to night vision. That said, just because it was based on a myth, this doesn’t necessarily mean that none of the nutrients in carrots are good for your eyesight. 

Health Benefits of Carrots

Carrots are packed full of nutrients. Some of those just happen to be good for your eyes.  Research does show that some of those nutrients can help to support your eye health. However, that same research reveals that the nutrients critical to supporting eye health typically need to be consumed at levels well above what you’d be able to obtain from a serving of carrots.

Our parents and grandparents weren’t far off the mark when pushing carrot consumption on us.  Like many other vegetables, they are high in many nutrients, particularly beta carotene and vitamin A. These are both nutrients that have been linked with ocular health, but again, the quantity is just as important as their presence in carrots.

Nutrients in Carrots

Carrots contain beta carotene (it’s what makes them orange) loaded with vitamin A and an antioxidant compound called lutein.  These are all wonderful nutrients associated with being highly beneficial for promoting healthy skin, growth, resisting infection and healthy eyesight particularly at night.

One average sized carrot contains twice the US Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is important to our systems because it also reduces the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration (age related diseases of the eye that lead to permanent blindness).  That said, research hasn’t shown that it actually increases night vision as much as it plays a role in preserving what you might already have. Globally Vitamin A deficiency or nyctanopia (night blindness) is the leading cause of blindness in developing countries. 

In that sense, eating carrots can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies which can result in blindness and night blindness.  However, there is a difference between consuming enough nutrients to avoid certain deficiencies and actually improving the vision you already have. 

 Carrots and Eye Health

So yes, carrots are good for general overall health because of their high levels of Vitamin A, but mega dosing on them will only turn your skin orange without any noticeable improvement in your vision. In other words, there is no direct relation between how many carrots you eat and improving your eyesight.  They can help to prevent deficiencies that can lead to various forms of blindness, but they won’t help you to see better in the dark and chowing down on carrots won’t correct vision problems you already have.

Although carrots do help to ward off disease and promote better eyesight, they are not a cure. There are people who consume mountains of carrots throughout their lifetime and yet they are still legally blind or suffer from poor vision at night.  Though these veggies are great to keep in a healthy balanced diet, the reason rabbits don’t wear glasses doesn’t have anything to do with their affinity for carrots.