Myth or Reality: Eating Carrots Can Improve Eyesight
Myth or Reality: The link between carrots and good eyesight dates back to World War II. Even today, doctors prescribe eating yellow and orange fruits to maintain good eye health.
Carrots are rich in nutrients that are proven to be beneficial for the eyes and help maintain good eye health. However, there are several other presumptions prevalent in the world about carrots and their supposed miraculous benefits.
Some people believe that carrots can treat eye disorders like myopia and hypermetropia, decrease eye power, and even give night vision. Today, we find out if there’s any scientific basis behind these beliefs.
Read on to know if the idea that eating carrots can improve eyesight is a myth or reality. But first, you should know the cause of weak eyesight.
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What is the cause of poor eyesight?
Image source: Elements of health care
There are many causes of bad eyesight; some are congenital, hereditary, or related to injuries and poor nutrition. The most common cause of low vision is refractive errors like nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hypermetropia).
These disorders often develop at an early age, and the scientific community hasn’t been able to reach a general consensus on their exact origin. But they mostly run in families.
Myopia occurs due to the elongation of the eyeball. This can happen due to hereditary factors, prolonged screen use, or poor nutrition. Myopia patients have difficulty viewing faraway objects.
On the other hand, farsightedness happens when the eye is shorter than normal or the cornea isn’t evenly curved. This results in difficulty viewing nearby objects.
Some kids grow out of these vision problems during puberty as the eye shape changes, while others continue to suffer from them throughout their lives.
Other eye disorders like glaucoma and cataract are largely age-related and are bound to occur in most people. Diabetes, astigmatism and dry eye are also leading causes of poor vision in people.
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Carrots: Nutritional Value and Benefits
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Carrots are rich in antioxidants, fibre and vitamin A, all highly beneficial nutrients. Vitamin A is known for aiding vision, and its deficiency results in night blindness, a condition in which people have difficulty seeing in the dark.
Carrots also contain antioxidants like beta-carotene and lutein that prevent eye damage attributed to free radicals, unstable molecules that are byproducts of cell metabolism and cause damage to other molecules.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a pigment that gives fruits and vegetables their colour. Beta carotene is a precursor of vitamin A and is necessary to maintain cellular and vision health.
Carrots, especially the yellow ones, also contain lutein, an antioxidant that prevents age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Other benefits of consuming carrots regularly include good digestion and cardiovascular health, thanks to their fibre content.
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How did the belief that carrots improve eyesight originate?
The idea that carrots are a magic food that gives near-superhuman vision to people originated during World War II. Times were hard, and most of Europe was battling food shortages. In a propaganda campaign, the UK government advocated the consumption of carrots to help see better in the dark, which was especially important as the Germans were bombing Britain frequently, causing citywide blackouts. In the absence of grains and meat, people were advised to grow and consume vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots. Over time, the theory grew that carrots improve eyesight. Nowadays, it is taught in school books as a fact.
Image Source: US National Archives
What does science say about carrots and the link between good eyesight?
As per science, there is no concrete link between carrots and vision improvement. Sure, carrots are abundant in vitamin A and antioxidants that prevent eye diseases and maintain overall health, but the vegetable doesn’t do much towards improving eyesight.
You can eat all the carrots you like, even outdo a rabbit, but it won’t have any effect on the betterment of your eyes if you already suffer from ailments like glaucoma, myopia, or diabetes. The only eye problem that carrots will improve is night blindness. And even then, green vegetables and sweet potatoes have significantly more beta-carotene, and dairy food, more vitamin A than carrots.
Here are a few things that actually help improve eyesight, as per scientists and reputed ophthalmologists.
- Regular exposure to natural light, especially in the early morning.
- Low screen time
- Maintaining a nutritious diet and optimal weight
- Refraining from smoking and alcohol
- Eye exercises
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Carrots are a highly nutritional vegetable that offers a multitude of health benefits to people. However, improving vision is not one of them. Carrots are good for the eyes, no doubt. They are rich in nutrients that boost eye health and prevent diseases but that fact has no relation to improving vision or treating diseases.
It’s one thing to prevent a disease and a whole another to treat one. Unfortunately, people seem to have misinterpreted the concept of carrots as "being good for the eyes" as "improving eyesight." As for the abundance of vitamin A in carrots, it will help you not be completely blind in the dark rather than give you night vision. Hence, we can conclude that the belief that eating carrots can improve eyesight is a myth.
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