Carrots and Vision
Carrots have long been considered a way to improve vision. After World War II, The U.K. Ministry of Food cited carrots as the reason for the pilots’ amazing night vision. Today, one may consider eating them to improve their eyesight after they fail an eye test. However, carrots can help the eyes in some ways and others not. Carrots, for instance, can improve overall eye health with the vitamins found in it. They can also help improve night vision in some circumstances. They are inevitably a valuable vegetable, having beta-carotene in them.
Carrots contain beta-carotene, which the body uses to develop vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for good eye health. In fact, an extreme lack of vitamin A can cause blindness. Lack of vitamin A causes cataracts and macular degeneration, leading to blindness. Another component of carrots can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration: lutein. Lutein in carrots increases pigment density in the macula. Greater pigment density in the macula protects one’s retina and lowers one’s risk for macular degeneration, ultimately preventing blindness. However, carrots also cannot improve blurry vision to 20/20 vision unless the vision problems were caused by vitamin A deficiency. It is also extremely unlikely that once one becomes blind their vision will be restored by eating carrots, even if the blindness was initially caused by vitamin A deficiency.
Though carrots cannot restore vision for those blind, they can help with night blindness. A study in 2005 found that a regular diet of cooked carrots for six weeks helped restore women’s response to darkness to normal levels. The beta-carotene in carrots, which converts to vitamin A, helped with this process. However, it is unclear the exact number of carrots needed to support the restoration of night vision to normal levels. This is because once there is enough beta-carotene in one’s body, the body will no longer convert it to vitamin A. But it has been found in that same study that beta-carotene does not convert to vitamin A very effectively, implying that it is much more effective to eat vitamin A supplements, if possible.
Beta-carotene, though not an effective option to gain vitamin A, has many benefits. It is needed for a strong immune system, healthy skin, and mucous membranes. However, like many other things, it is not beneficial to eat too many carrots because of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene gives carrots its orange color so eating too many carrots will lead to skin discoloration. Since one must have beta-carotene in their body but in an amount that is healthy and sufficient for good health, carrots should be eaten in healthy amounts, ensuring the prevention of negative effects.
Thus, unless one has vision problems due to vitamin A deficiency, eating carrots will not help one’s vision-- blurred or not. Nutritional checkups will help determine if one’s vision problems are caused by a vitamin A deficiency. However, most eye problems stem from issues such as genetics, aging, or diabetes, which cannot be fixed by simply eating carrots or taking supplements. Eye damage and vision impairment can also be caused by external factors like gazing at the sun. One must avoid damaging their eyes with the sun as well as maintain a rich diet with plenty of protein, vitamins, and fibers to protect their eyes. Eating carrots in healthy amounts will help maintain a healthy diet.
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