Most of us have grown up with the belief that eating a lot of carrots will improve our eye sight. This myth was mostly perpetuated by our teachers and parents who probably had learned it from the previous generation. The true origin of this myth however, traces back to World War II when the British Royal Air force reported that a certain fighter pilot who went by the nickname Cats’ Eyes, had developed an excellent night vision flying ability due to a steady diet of carrots. Thus the carrot growing and eating craze started. The story was later found to be an attempt to to hide the fact that the British Air force was using radar to locate and bring down German Bombers and a carrot filled diet had nothing to do with Cats’ Eyes legendary night vision.
Carrots contain a component known as Beta Carotene. The body converts this component into Vitamin A. A lack of vitamin A could lead to various eye problems and could even cause blindness. Therefore, for people with less than perfect eyesight, eating carrots can be highly beneficial. However is your vision is 20/20, then eating carrots will in no way make your seeing capabilities extraordinary.
This does not mean that you should not eat carrots; just the opposite, eat as much as you can; there are other eye care benefits associated with eating carrots. They are outlined below.
- Prevention of Cataracts and macular degeneration which can lead to blindness.
- Carrots also contain Lutein which is an antioxidant. Lutein is a known booster of pigment density in the Macula (an oval area near the eye’s retina). The higher the macula pigment density the less the chances of suffering from macula degeneration and your retina is well protected from various complications.
- An improvement in the general health of the eyes.
So while eating carrots will not give you a better than 20/20 vision, it certainly does no harm. In fact, carrots are instrumental in preventing blindness.
Alternative eye care foods
If you cannot access carrots, the following foods are also good for the eyes;
- Pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, mangoes, milk and cheese also contain beta carotene which the body converts into vitamin A.
- Leafy green vegetables, spinach, kale and Swiss card contain lutein which are important in increasing macula pigment density.