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Optometrist Insight: Carrots and Eyesight

You may have heard that carrots improve your eyesight, but is this really true? Eye doctors will tell you that the orange vegetable can't actually improve your vision. However, they are rich in beta-carotene, a vitamin that is very good for the health of your eyes and therefore eating foods rich in beta-carotene is surely advised for ensuring eye health.

Beta-carotene is an orange colored pigment (carotenoid) that changes into vitamin A after it's digested in the body. Vitamin A protects the surface of the eye (cornea) and has been shown to be preventative for certain eye diseases such as macular degeneration. Vitamin A, an antioxidant compound, protects the surface of the eye to reduce the risk of eye infections and other infectious illnesses. Vitamin A is also known to be a successful treatment for dry eyes and other eye conditions. A deficiency of this important vitamin (which is exist more in underdeveloped countries) is known to cause night blindness, corneal ulcers and retinal damage which can lead to blindness.

Two variations of vitamin A exist, which relate to the food source from which they come. Retinol is vitamin A that comes from an animal origin such as beef, chicken liver, whole milk or cheese. Vitamin A that is obtained from fruits and vegetables comes in the form of ''provitamin A'' carotenoids, which break down to retinol after the nutrients are digested. 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 vitamin A is beneficial to your eyes and your overall well being. Even though carrots themselves can't correct corneal refraction which causes near or far-sightedness, grandma had it right when she said ''finish your carrots.''


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