There seems to be deep misunderstanding between carrots and eyesight.
One of the most common questions people may ask about eye nutrition is "Are carrots good for your eyesight?"
I grew up eating carrots like Bugs Bunny because my mum told me that it can improve my eyesight.
But do carrots help your eyesight?
Sadly, after eating carrots diligently for years, it didn't seem to help me overcome my nearsightedness.
Today I know it was just an old wive tale.
However, I also do realized that there are still some truths to it.
Carrots came from around Afghanistan.
They had reached the Greeks and the Romans before the birth of Christ, and by 1300 AD had reached northwestern Europe, India, Japan and China.
In the Middle Age in Europe, they were used as a medicine to cure most maladies, including sexually transmitted diseases and snakebites.
The myth how evolved during World War II, when the British press released a report about John Cunningham, a top-scoring night fighter pilot of Royal Air Force (RAF).
John Cunningham had a total of 20 kills which gained him the nickname of ‘Cat-Eyes’.
When asked about the secret of his exceptional night vision, John revealed that it was due to eating lots of carrots everyday.
This wasn't the only story which the Britain’s air ministry released. The Royal Air Force created a propaganda that the great accuracy of British fighter pilots at night was a result of them being fed enormous quantities of carrots every day.
All these rumors were actually made to cover up the superior radar technology which the British had developed.
At the beginning of World War II, a few countries had explored and researched the radar technology but only Britain had developed a fully-functioning network called “Chain Home”.
To hide this fact, the British had to make up plausible stories for the sudden increase of enemy bombers being shot down.
The Nazis fell for this blatant myth rather than the possibility of radar towers because their folk wisdom included the same myth.
In the end, the propaganda was so convincing that people in Britain started to eat carrots to improve their night vision so that they could see better during blackouts (which is very common during wars).
Isn’t it amazing how a propaganda made 60 years ago still affect the people today?
So what is the real deal between carrots and eyesight then? Are carrots good for your eyesight?
First of all, I have to say that carrots are indeed good for your eyes. It contains Vitamin A in form of beta-carotene.
When vitamin A reaches the retina, it is converted into a light reactive chemical called retinal.
When light hits the retinal, it sends off electrical signals to the brain forming what we called vision.
People who have deficiency in vitamin A often experience that their vision (day and night) diminish as their photoreceptors (cells that receive light) start to deteriorate.
In fact, lack of vitamin A is the leading cause of blindness in developing countries.
Vitamin A has also been found effective in protecting the cornea and treating eye diseases.
Let's add some more carrots nutrition facts into the picture.
As mentioned before, carrots contain beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is found to be useful in reducing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
However, these studies used much higher doses of vitamin A and beta-carotene which can be gotten from a standard diet.
To reach the level of doses require too much carrot intake that is not feasible for most people.
Plus over-dosage of carrots may cause a condition called carotenemia in which the skin turns orange or yellow.
Even though there is nothing to fear since this condition can be easily recover when you reduce your beta-carotene intake.
But I sure you don’t want to look like a carrot for sometime.
Therefore, I recommend that you take a daily eye vitamins supplement instead which is becoming a popular choice among many people.
So do carrots improve your eyesight?
Yes and no.
The fact is that, unless you have deficiency in vitamin A, carrots will not improve your eyesight dramatically.
It will not help you remove those glasses even if you eat a truck load of carrots.
But are carrots good for your eyesight?
Yes, they are good source of Vitamin A and beta-carotene but you should have a balance dietary habit for optimal eye health.
Depending on carrots alone will not help.
Incorporating a variety of nutritious eye food in your diet will help you go far.
It is faster and you will not turn yellow like you will if you go on a carrot rampage.
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