“Eat your carrots, they’re good for your eyes.” Did you
ever hear this growing up? Have you passed this little nugget of wisdom
on to your own children? Is it even true?
The answer is not as simple as “yes” or “no.”
Yes, carrots, like many vegetables, help to promote healthy eyes. However,
carrots will not correct existing vision problems. If you’re dependent
on glasses or contact lenses to see clearly, eating a generous helping
of carrots on a daily basis won’t give you 20/20 vision.
So what's good about carrots?
Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a nutrient that the body
converts to vitamin A. An extreme deficiency of vitamin A can cause blindness.
In fact, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in developing
Vitamin A, a group of antioxidant compounds, helps the surface of the eye
effectively protect against bacteria and viruses, which can cause eye
infections. Vitamin A also helps protect against cataracts, macular degeneration
and xerophthalmia—a condition that causes the eyes to stop producing
tears, which can lead to dry eyes, swollen eyelids and corneal ulcers.
Some research suggests that over-the-counter eye drops containing vitamin
A are an effective treatment against dry eye syndrome.
Carrots also contain lutein, an antioxidant that can help lower the risk
of macular degeneration and cataracts. Some research has also shown that
lutein supplementation may be used in treating non-proliferative diabetic
Carrots aren’t the only foods that contain beta-carotene and lutein.
Beta-carotene is a pigment found in many orange fruits and vegetables,
including sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkins, apricots and cantaloupe.
Milk, cheese, egg yolks and liver also contain beta-carotene. Lutein is
found in carrots as well as dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and Swiss chard.
While eating carrots may not mean you can say goodbye to your glasses or
contact lenses, a healthy diet rich in nutrients can help prevent the
development of vision-threatening eye conditions.