Do Carrots Really Improve Eyesight? by Densie Webb Ph.d., R.d. The claim: Eating carrots will improve your eyesight. The facts: The origin of this myth dates back to World War II and is in fact according to a bit of truth. Carrots are rich in beta carotene, which the body transforms into a form of vitamin A called retinal, a key molecule involved with maintaining normal vision. But unless you’re deficient in vitamin A, as from a poor diet, malabsorption problems, or alcoholism, for instance, beta carotene won’t make bad vision better. As it’s, most Americans get enough beta carotene and vitamin A in their diets, though in some developing nations, vision loss because of a lack of those nutrients is a lot more common.
The notion that carrots improve eyesight originated in the British Royal Air Force during World War II when pilots were using radar for the very first time to spot and shoot down enemy planes. Based on a source at the Carrot Museum, in an attempt to conceal this new cutting edge technology, a rumor was started that the pilots ate a lot of carrots, which allowed them to see better during the night. The fabricated fact stuck and, to this day, were told to eat carrots to improve our vision. While beta carotene won’t give you 20\/20 vision, some research has shown that this carotenoid can help some people with age related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people overage 55 in the U.S.
The Age Related Eye Disease Study, sponsored by the federal governments National Eye Institute, found that a formula containing high doses of beta carotene, along with vitamins E and C and zinc, reduced progression of intermediate AMD to advanced AMD. But there are also concerns about taking high dose beta carotene, which is the reason the subsequent AREDS2 study perfected the original formula, substituting the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin for the beta carotene and discovering that this combination offered the same, if not better, protection against progression to advanced AMD, than beta carotene. Less clear is whether or not beta carotene can reduce the potential risk of developing AMD in the first place, and what effect carotenoids could have on the development or progression of other eye disorders, like cataracts. Although the AREDS formula is sometimes promoted for eye health generally, there’s no evidence it’s any such benefits. Beyond carrots. The finding of adverse effects from high doses of beta carotene does not diminish the importance of eating foods rich in beta carotene, like carrots, yams, papayas, and red peppers, in the context of a general healthful diet, as one strategy for protecting your eyes.