The Greek physician Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine.” Ever since, scientists have examined the interrelationship between what we eat and how healthy we are — with some interesting results.
The link between carrots and good vision is especially well-known — but just how true is it? Soheila Rostami, MD, and the entire team at Rostami OPC are committed to providing both state-of-the-art care and helping their patients understand and manage their eye health better. Let’s take a look at the carrots-vision story and its unusual origins.
Carrots and vision: Where it all began
“Finish your carrots. They’re good for your eyes.” Many a mother has dispensed that sage bit of wisdom to encourage a reluctant child to clean their plate. But is it really true? The answer is yes — sort of.
Carrots do contain a lot of beta carotene, a sort of precursor to vitamin A, which plays an important role in vision. But the carrot story actually has its roots in a bit of World War II propaganda that started in England.
Back then, the British government attributed the accuracy of its bomber pilots to their good eyesight, which (they said) was due to a diet rich in carrots. The government might have been using the story to hide the use of new radar technology.
The food ministry went so far as to encourage people to eat carrots so they could see better during the blackouts that had become part of the daily routine in Great Britain.
Good nutrition for better vision
Since that time, scientific research has looked closely at carrot consumption and improved eyesight. What researchers have found is that yes, carrots can play an important role in maintaining eye health. But it’s just as important to eat other foods rich in vitamin A and beta carotene (and lutein, another vision-building nutrient found in carrots).
In fact, today’s eye experts recommend “eating a rainbow” of colorful foods to get the most vision benefits from your diet.
For instance, many leafy greens contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two important nutrients that play major roles in maintaining good vision, especially as we age. Cold-water fish, like salmon and tuna, contain omega-3 fatty acids that can aid in tear production to help prevent dry eye.
Plenty of other foods provide benefits, too. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology provides this list of 36 foods that are important for eye health.
Bottom line: Diet matters
There may not be a direct line between the carrots you eat and how well you see. But there’s no doubt your nutrition plays a role in your eyesight. Carrots provide important nutrients your body can use — and convert — into the building blocks of good vision.
Plus, carrots provide numerous other healthy benefits that make them a worthy choice in your diet.
As important as diet is, there are plenty of other ways you can protect your vision, like:
- Wearing sunglasses with UV protection
- Taking frequent breaks from your computer and phone
- Quitting smoking
- Using protective eyewear during sports
Having regular eye exams is another way to maintain optimal vision and eye health — at every age. If you’re due for a vision exam, call our office in Reston, Virginia, or book an appointment online, and let our team develop a healthy vision plan just for you.