Moms only want what is best for their children. Nutrition and a balanced diet is always an important consideration in feeding those maternal instincts.This holds true even if that means convincing a child that they may gain superhuman powers from eating a root vegetable. So, can we count on a healthy serving of carrots to give us perfect vision?
Carrots Improve Eyesight: Fact or Fiction?
The verdict lands squarely in the grey area. Though this common belief has some merit on a scientific level, there is little that is unique to carrots that offer the marginal improvement to eyesight.
Carrots happen to be heavy in beta-carotene, which is processed by our bodies into Vitamin A, a nutrient that just happens to be essential to healthy vision. Not unsurprisingly, it is the Vitamin A (beta-carotene) that links carrots to claims of perfect vision. But carrots are not the only food in which this essential vitamin can be found. You can find Vitamin A in eggs, cheese, mangos, lettuce, peas, and cantaloupe – just to name a few. In fact, some of this other fresh produce contains much higher concentrations of Vitamin A than the carrot.
But that’s not all the carrot has going for it. Carrots also contain an antioxidant called Lutein. Food that has a high amount of it are linked to lowering the risk of macular degeneration. Just like beta-carotene, lutein is also found in other foods such as kale, spinach, pepper, and even some spices.
The troubling reality is that no matter whether you gorge on carrots, mangos, or even Vitamin A supplements, you won’t improve your vision. If you wear glasses that are a half an inch thick, no amount of carrots will bring you to 20/20 vision. The nutrients in carrots promote overall eye health but can do nothing to improve vision function. On the contrary, a deficiency in Vitamin A can cause a severe deterioration in vision, which could result in blindness. Vitamin A deficiencies are also linked to eye dryness, lack of tears, and cataracts. So eat up! But what about consuming too much beta-carotene, you ask? Well, that can lead to your skin becoming a nice shade of orange.
Carrots Uniquely Associated with Eyesight? It’s a Secret
The reason that many of us think that carrots are so important for our eyesight is not a result of overwhelming scientific proof; it was actually part of a ploy to keep an important military secret. The secret was that the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) had created a fully functioning radar, which was the first of its kind. During a altercation at the 1940 Battle of Britain, an RAF fighter pilot became the first person to ever take out an enemy target at night. Though it was this new technology that led to his success, the truth needed to be kept secret to prevent the enemy discovery. But a public explanation was necessary, which led to a story about carrots. It was explained that the pilot’s success was linked to the heavy diet of carrots offered on military installations. And so the common knowledge about the carrot and its powers was born. The story that has fueled our beliefs about carrots and eyesight was, by its very nature, intended to deceive. And it was an effective one: as it has been doing so for 75+ years and will certainly continue on for years to come.
More Vision “Facts” to Consider
- Sitting too close to the television will not damage your vision. Worst case scenario, you may get a headache or need glasses.
- But looking directly into the sun can have some lasting side effects such as permanent vision loss and a laundry list of other eye disorders.
- The use of glasses and contacts will not weaken your eyesight. Any changes to your eyesight are a result of natural changes to vision or a possible eye health issue.
- Reading in the dark will not damage your eyesight, but the dark certainly might make it hard to read or even make you feel sick.