Are Carrots Good for Your Eyes? Facts You Need to Know
September 19, 2023 • 8:20 AM
If your parents ever told you as a child that eating your carrots would help you see in the dark, that idea has probably stuck with you. Perhaps you’ve even passed it on to your own kids.
But is it true? Are carrots good for your eyes?
Let’s find out if this humble root vegetable really can ensure good vision. We’ll also look at where the belief that carrots are good for your eyes originated and suggest a few other ways to take care of your vision, so you can continue to enjoy the beauty of the world.
Note: This post is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Consult your doctor before changing your diet or taking any new vitamins or supplements.
Where Did the Idea That Carrots Are Good for Your Eyes Come From?
The story goes that during World War II, the British Royal Air Force began using radar to fight enemy planes. They didn’t want this to be public knowledge though. So they started a propaganda campaign, claiming that British fighter pilots were so good at fighting, especially at night, because they ate a lot of carrots.
The Germans probably weren’t fooled — especially as they were already using radar themselves — but the idea stuck. And ever since then, generations of kids have been more inspired to eat their carrots.
Just because this is a great story doesn’t mean it’s not true. In fact, carrots are good for your eyes. Let’s find out why.
How Eating Carrots Improves Your Eye Health
To help you see well in a range of light conditions, your retinas need certain pigments. Rhodopsin is the pigment that helps you see at night — and to produce it, your eyes need vitamin A. Vitamin A is also critical for the health of your corneas and to keep your eyes lubricated.
So how exactly are carrots good for your eyes?
Carrots are high in a carotenoid called beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in your body, keeping your eyes healthy and helping you see better at night.
As a bonus, both beta-carotene and lutein are antioxidants. That means they help to counteract free radicals in your body. Free radicals can otherwise cause cell damage and — if left unchecked — chronic illnesses.
Interesting side note: Raw carrots are crunchy and delicious but when you cook them, they’re even better for you. Cooking boosts the levels of antioxidants and helps your body to use the beta-carotene more efficiently. And because vitamin A is fat-soluble, if you drizzle a little olive oil on them, you’ll get even more nutrients from your carrots.
Food for Your Eyes
Carrots are good for your eyes — but they aren’t the only food your eyes need. Aim to eat a balanced diet to cover all the nutrients that keep your eyes healthy.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology specifically recommends a diet high in lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and omega-3.
So plan to include more of these foods in your daily meals:
For beta-carotene: Orange vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes
For zeaxanthin and lutein: Leafy green veggies like kale, spinach, and collard greens
For vitamin C: Tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, and citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons
For omega-3 fatty acids: Fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna
For zinc: Lean red meat, poultry, eggs, and legumes like kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and peanuts
For vitamin E: Avocadoes, olive oil, and nuts and seeds like almonds and sunflower seeds
When you get enough of these nutrients, you’re not only less likely to suffer from macular degeneration, but you’ll also lower your risk for dry eyes and other eye diseases like cataracts. And just as importantly, you’ll keep the rest of your body healthy too.
Other Helpful Tips to Improve Your Vision
So yes, carrots are good for your eyes, but they aren’t the only element of eye health. Here are a few other things to consider.
Check If You’re Deficient in Vitamin A
Eating a load of carrots will only help if you’re suffering from vitamin A deficiency. If you eat a relatively balanced diet, you’re probably getting enough vitamin A and your body simply won’t absorb any more. However, you may be at risk if you’re malnourished, pregnant, or have certain conditions that affect your liver, pancreas, or intestines. A blood test can confirm any deficiency — and perhaps uncover any underlying conditions too.
Consider a Supplement
If your body is low in vitamin A, you may be better off taking a vitamin A supplement than eating extra carrots. That’s because your body doesn’t need to do the extra step of converting those carrots to vitamin form. Vitamin A supplements can actually reverse night blindness, helping to restore vision.
Practice Basic Eye Care
You can eat as many carrots as you like, but if you’re not looking after your eyes in other ways too, you’re wasting your time. For example:
Make sure you get enough sleep so your eyes can rest and restore themselves after your day.
Drink plenty of water to keep your eyes hydrated.
To prevent sun damage, wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection whenever you’re outside.
And if you often find yourself on a device late at night, invest in some blue light glasses to protect your eyes and your sleep.
Visit Your Eye Doctor
If you have other vision problems, like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, eating carrots won’t solve that. Instead, you’ll need to visit your optometrist for an eye exam. They’ll probably recommend prescription eyeglasses or, if you need any further treatment, they’ll refer you to an ophthalmologist.
Where to Get Your Glasses
Once your eye doctor has given you a prescription, you’ll need to find the right pair of glasses for you. A great place to start is Pair Eyewear.
Pair offers a range of beautiful Base Frames to suit different shapes and sizes of faces. Once you’ve selected your Base Frame, you can add any number of gorgeous, magnetic Top Frames. These are extremely thin and light and they snap on, giving you a whole new look in seconds. Carry a couple around with you in a Top Frame Case, and you’ll be ready to face whatever the day throws at you in style.
All Pair’s glasses are hard-wearing, and they come standard with an anti-reflective coating. And if you’re looking for prescription sunglasses, you can rest assured that your eyes will be well protected with 100% UVA and UVB protection.
So, Are Carrots Good for Your Eyes?
While the British Royal Air Force’s cover-up might be responsible for our belief in carrot-powered vision, carrots are in fact good for your eyes. They help you see better at night, and they also protect you from harmful free radicals and reduce your risk of macular degeneration.
Carrots aren’t enough on their own to keep your eyes healthy though. You also need to eat a healthy, balanced diet, rich in vitamins C and E, omega-3s, zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Plus, it helps to practice good general eye care and to get your eyes tested regularly.
And if you need a prescription, head on over to Pair Eyewear. You’re sure to find a beautiful pair of glasses that flatters your face and keeps your vision sharp.