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Optometry Insight: Carrots and Eyesight

We have all been told that carrots improve your eyesight, but is this really true? Eye care professionals say that regardless of how many carrots you eat, they can't actually improve your vision. However, they are rich in beta-carotene, a vitamin that is very good for your eye health and therefore ingesting carrots and other beta-carotene rich foods is surely recommended for maintaining eye health.

Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, or orange pigment that converts into vitamin A after it's digested in the human body. Vitamin A helps to guard the cornea, or surface of the eye, and has been shown to prevent a number of eye diseases such as macular degeneration. Vitamin A, a group of antioxidant compounds, protects the cornea to reduce the risk of eye infections as well as other infectious illnesses. Vitamin A is also known to be a successful solution for dry eyes as well as other eye conditions. A deficiency of vitamin A (which tends to exist more in underdeveloped countries) is known to cause night blindness, corneal ulcers and retinal damage which can contribute to blindness.

Two forms of vitamin A exist, which relate to the food source from which they come. Vitamin A derived from an animal is called Retinol and can be found in foods such as beef, chicken liver, whole milk or cheese. Vitamin A that is obtained from fruits and vegetables exists in the form of ''provitamin A'' carotenoids, which break down to retinol after the nutrients are absorbed. In addition to carrots, carotenoids are ingested when eating colorful fruits and vegetables such as oranges, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and cantaloupes.

It is proven that through most forms, vitamin A is beneficial to your eyes as well as your overall health. Even though carrots themselves can't correct vision impairments, grandma had it right when she said ''finish your carrots.''