Health + Prevention

Are carrots good for your eyes?

From a young age, we are told that carrots are good for our eyes. Unfortunately, this is only true to an extent

16 October 2020
  • Are carrots good for your eyes?

Carrots are good for the eyes –have you ever seen a rabbit wearing glasses? Not only is this comparison not very funny, it hasn't got a leg to stand on. And yet this health myth has been around for generations. The following is true, however: carrots contain a lot of beta-carotene. This is a precursor of vitamin A, an essential nutrient. If this vitamin is lacking in your diet, it can have a negative impact on growth and the condition of your skin and hair. In extreme cases, it can even provoke night blindness. Most visual impairments, however, are usually the result of completely different causes.

There is an endless amount of popular wisdom that we hear during childhood. Nowadays, most of these myths can be scientifically refuted. Some, however, do at least contain an element of truth. And what better example is there than the popular health myth "carrots are good for your eyes." But what is the reasoning behind this myth? This tasty vegetable contains a lot of beta-carotene. This substance is what gives carrots their orange color, but it is also the precursor of essential vitamin A, which really is good for the eyes. Nevertheless, this piece of wisdom only contains a grain of truth.

Nutritionists also refer to vitamin A as retinol. In fact, this name refers directly to the function it performs in the eye. The eye's retina contains cells that can produce a black and white image from even the slightest glimmer of light. Without retinol, noone would be able to distinguish between the contrast of light and dark, and people requiring medical treatment for a critical vitamin A deficiency are even at risk of developing night blindness.

Luckily for us, this type of health complaint is very rare in our part of the world. What's more, there are plenty of foods which are even richer in vitamin A than carrots – such as spinach, cabbage or lettuce. Animal products, like liver for example, are even better, for they do not merely contain the precursor of vitamin A, they contain the vitamin itself.

So what can we conclude? Munching regularly on carrots does indeed benefit your eyes, but it will not give you the improved vision you're hoping for. As always, whether you're nearsighted or farsighted, the only thing that can really help with the majority of visual impairments is a good pair of glasses.

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