Carrots contain antioxidants that can support your eye health and vision, but eating them won’t give you perfect sight. It’s most accurate to say that incorporating carrots into your diet can help you maintain good ocular wellness. 

So, how did this myth get its start, and how true is it? This article will broadly discuss if and how carrots can help vision issues and what carrots do for your eyes. 

How Do Carrots Help Your Eyes?

Carrots can help with eye health because they contain a lot of beta-carotene—an antioxidant that the body uses to produce vitamin A. Vitamin A, in turn, has a host of eye-related benefits. Two of its biggest ones are: 

It strengthens low-light vision. Your eye uses vitamin A to make a pigment called rhodopsin that aids your sight in dim lighting

It helps maintain the cornea. A vitamin A deficiency, if severe enough, can lead to corneal ulcers and other issues. It’s distressing to think about, but your cornea can actually “melt away” if you aren’t getting enough vitamin A. 

In addition to beta-carotene, carrots also contain another antioxidant: lutein. Studies have shown that lutein—perhaps even more than beta-carotene—may help slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is a disease that can drastically impact vision.    

Finally, antioxidants are generally helpful in offsetting cell damage caused by free radicals (molecules with unpaired electrons). 

Scientists are still exploring the capabilities of these antioxidants and how they can impact the body. It’s important to note that most studies administer beta-carotene and lutein within supplements rather than having participants eat a ton of carrots. 

Also, there’s a good chance that you already get enough vitamin A through your diet. It’s only when you’re experiencing a vitamin A deficiency that you’d need to worry about vision loss, night blindness, and other problems. 

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Are Cooked Carrots or Raw Carrots Better for Your Eyes?

If you’re looking to get the maximum amount of beta-carotene from your carrots, research shows that cooked carrots are the better option. Eating your carrots cooked rather than raw enables your body to absorb the beta-carotene in them more efficiently.

Not only that, but different cooking methods can impact the level of antioxidants found in your carrots. In one study, scientists found that cooking carrots upped antioxidant levels by more than 30%. Pretty amazing, right? 

Of course, taste comes into play too. Whether you eat your carrots cooked or raw, you’ll get no judgment from us—they’re still good for you and your eyes. 

Do Carrots Improve Your Eyesight?

Carrots can help maintain your eye health, but they probably won’t cause any noticeable change in your eyesight unless you have a vitamin A deficiency. In that case, consuming them could potentially help repair some vision problems. 

In short, carrots are good for your eyes, but they don’t automatically improve your vision. 

How Did the Carrot Eyesight Myth Start?

Many sources say that Britain’s Royal Air Force was responsible for spreading the idea that carrots are good for your eyesight. During World War II, the now-dissolved Ministry of Information told the press that British pilots were so eagle-eyed because they ate a lot of carrots. 

This story was perhaps an effort to divert enemy attention away from the new radar technology that was aiding the RAF’s aerial attacks. It remains unclear whether any Germans were actually fooled by the propaganda campaign, but the connection between carrots and improved vision persisted. 

What Other Foods Should You Eat To Improve Your Vision?

Carrots aren’t the only food you should consider if you’re looking to protect your peepers and preserve your vision. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, eating a variety of veggies that contain different nutrients and vitamins (including lutein, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, etc.) is the best approach. 

Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and/or collard greens are excellent choices. These vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin—antioxidants that can help block high-energy wavelengths of light capable of damaging the retina. 

The New York State Department of Health even has a list of numerous foods that can contribute to ocular health. Some of their recommended foods are sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, squash, eggs, salmon, and walnuts. 

Just be sure to always run any changes in your diet past your doctor first. Sometimes, certain medications or unique circumstances may cause dietary changes to affect you differently.

Carrots Can Help With Eye Health, But They Aren’t a Replacement for Glasses

Despite what many of us have heard about carrots fixing our vision problems (thanks, Mom and Dad), those myths are mostly exaggerated. Carrots contain a relatively large amount of beta-carotene and lutein, and those antioxidants can support your eye health. But to maintain good ocular health and vision, a well-balanced diet is vital. If you can’t see clearly, then glasses or contacts are far more likely to help you than a bowl of carrots, raw or cooked. And if you’re experiencing vision problems, schedule an eye exam to get those peepers checked.

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