Delicious raw or cooked and beloved by Bugs Bunny, carrots are one of nature’s most versatile vegetables. Not only does their mild taste make them popular even with picky eaters, but they’re chock full of important substances called antioxidants, including a very important one called beta carotene.
Carrots are also widely rumored to benefit eyesight — but is this true? Rodrigo Belalcazar, MD, and our team at Advanced Eye Center in Hialeah, Florida, know that good nutrition is definitely an important part of keeping your eyes healthy. In this post, we uncover the truth about carrots and eye health.
The power of vitamin A
Carrots derive their deep orange hue from special pigments called carotenoids. Beta carotene is a type of carotenoid found in carrots and other orange vegetables and fruits, such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and cantaloupe.
Beta carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, which is an essential micronutrient that we derive from the foods we consume. When we consume foods rich in beta carotene, our bodies convert it into the form of vitamin A that our cells and tissues can use.
As an antioxidant, vitamin A helps protect our cells and tissues from specific types of damage. And as it turns out, vitamin A is also really important for your eyes, specifically for your retinas and corneas.
Vitamin A and your eyes
Vitamin A helps your retinas (the “walls” at the back of your eyes) produce pigments that enable them to recognize the full spectrum of visible light. If you’re deficient in vitamin A, your eyes don't produce enough of these pigments, which can eventually lead to night blindness.
Vitamin A also helps nourish your corneas, which are the clear, domed covers that rest over your irises and pupils. Without enough vitamin A, your eyes can’t produce the lubrication that is needed to keep the corneas healthy.
Worldwide, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness among children, particularly in developing nations. In fact, this deficiency causes as many as a half million cases of blindness among children every year.
The bottom line is this: Carrots and other foods rich in beta carotene can provide a benefit for people with specific eye risks or conditions. Including carrots and other foods rich in beta carotene in your diet can help ensure you get the vitamin A your eyes need to stay healthy.
Make your eyes a priority
A leading provider of LASIK eye surgery and other state-of-the-art eye care services, our team at Advanced Eye Center offers comprehensive vision care, including lifestyle tips to keep your eyes healthy. To schedule an eye exam, call 305-707-6011 or book an appointment online today.