One of the most common tricks that parents use to encourage or trick their kids to eat vegetables is to amplify the ‘good’ a particular vegetable can provide. The common ones include eating spinach for strength, broccoli to make you smarter, drinking milk will make you taller etc. But one of the oldest and the most popular saying remains – ‘Eat carrots to get excellent eyesight’. Tricking younger kids may be simpler but there may come a time when they will start questioning the authenticity of such claims.
Let us delve into the history to see of how this adage came into existence and became one of the most used statements by parents across the world.
Bugs bunny’s favorite food became associated with strong eyesight during World War II when the British Royal Air Force managed to gun down German aircrafts even at nights. The air force fabricated a story of how their skilled fighter pilot John “Cats’ eyes” Cunningham attributed his excellent night vision due to a carrot-enriched diet. Soon, everyone began to eat more carrots get stronger night vision so that they could work in the dark as well. However, it turned out to be mere propaganda as the Air Force was, in fact, utilizing radar to locate the German bombers.
Why Should You incorporate Carrots in Your Diet
Even though it started as a myth, having carrots do help in maintaining healthy eyes due to the presence of the following nutrients:
It is extremely essential for healthy eyes. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a carotenoid pigment which is an essential precursor for vitamin A. If you don’t get enough Vitamin A, you risk getting cataracts, macular degeneration and xerophthalmia (A disease characterized by dry eyes, corneal ulcers and swollen eye lids). Deficiency in vitamin A also leads to blindness.
This is an important antioxidant which is present in carrots. Food products that are rich in lutein are known to increase the pigment density in the macula. When the pigment density increases, the retina is protected more, thus reducing the risk for macular degeneration.
How Many Carrots is too Many Carrots
Even though carrots are rich in nutrients, binging on them won’t improve your eyesight significantly. Once there is enough beta-carotene in your body, it will no longer convert to vitamin A. In fact, it’ll regulate the excess vitamin A to prevent accumulation of toxic levels of the substance in the body. Though there is no ‘ideal number’ of carrots one should consume, it can safely be said that having a moderate amount in your daily diet will be helpful. Most eye and vision problems are either genetic, due to aging, disease or an accident. Just eating carrots and infusing beta-carotene and lutein will not help in such situation. The right medication and eye treatment are essential.
We can safely say that eating carrots every day will not sharpen your eyesight beyond a certain measure and will definitely not restore the vision to 20/20, nor can it correct certain optical deformities such as astigmatism, diseases like glaucoma and conditions like strabismus. If you have weak eyesight, using prescribed glasses or contact lenses is recommended. That definitely doesn’t mean that carrots don’t make a healthy snack – eat it to satiate those hunger pangs between meals and pack it in the lunches for your kids. But don’t let them believe that they can ditch their glasses just because they will get superman-like vision just by eating carrots.
When you parents and grandparents told you to eat carrots for good vision, they weren’t entirely wrong. But if you are facing vision problems, visit a doctor instead of just relying on a carrot-rich diet.
Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for Insight Vision Center. With a knack for understanding medical procedures, and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns. He blogs to inform readers about the latest eye care technology and other topics related to eye care, especially LASIK.