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Home » What’s New » The Optometrist Says: Eat Beta-Carotene for Eye Health

The Optometrist Says: Eat Beta-Carotene for Eye Health

You may have been told that carrots improve your vision, but is this really true? Eye doctors will tell you that regardless of how many carrots you eat, they can't actually improve your vision. However, they do provide substantial quantities of beta-carotene, a vitamin that is beneficial for the health of your eyes and therefore consuming foods rich in this vitamin is surely recommended for proper eye health.

Beta-carotene is an orange pigment (carotenoid) that changes into vitamin A once digested in the human body. Vitamin A helps to protect the surface of the eye (cornea) and has been shown to be preventative for various eye diseases such as macular degeneration. Vitamin A, a group of antioxidant compounds, protects the cornea to reduce the frequency of ocular infections as well as other infectious diseases. Vitamin A has also shown to be an effective solution for dry eyes as well as other eye disorders. A lack of this important vitamin (which tends to exist more in poor and developing countries) is known to cause night blindness, corneal ulcers and retinal damage which can contribute to blindness.

There are two forms of vitamin A, which depend upon the food source from which they come. Retinol is vitamin A derived from an animal origin such as beef, chicken liver, or dairy products. Vitamin A that is obtained from fruits and vegetables exists in the form of ''provitamin A'' carotenoids, which convert to retinol after the food is absorbed. In addition to carrots, carotenoids can be found in colorful produce such as oranges, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and cantaloupes.

It is proven that vitamin A is beneficial to your eyes as well as your overall health. Even though carrots can't correct corneal refraction which causes vision impairments, grandma had it right when she advised ''eat your carrots.''