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Eye Doctor Insight: Carrots and Eyesight

You may have been told that carrots improve your eyesight, but is this really true? Eye care professionals will tell you that carrots can't actually improve your eyesight. However, they do provide large quantities of beta-carotene, a vitamin that is very good for the health of your eyes and therefore consuming foods rich in beta-carotene is surely advised for ensuring eye health.

Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, or orange pigment that converts into vitamin A once digested in the body. Vitamin A helps to protect the cornea, or surface of the eye, and has been determined to prevent various eye diseases such as corneal ulcers. Vitamin A, which is composed of a number of antioxidants, guards the cornea to reduce the risk of ocular infections and other infectious diseases. Vitamin A has also shown to be a successful solution for dry eyes as well as other eye conditions. A lack of vitamin A (which tends to be more likely in poor and developing countries) is known to cause night blindness, corneal ulcers and retinal damage which can lead to complete blindness.

There are two types of vitamin A, which relate to the nutritional source they come from. Vitamin A originating 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 produce comes 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 particularly those that are bright orange or green in color.

There is no question that vitamin A is beneficial to your eyes as well as your total well being. Although carrots themselves can't correct optical distortion which causes near or far-sightedness, grandma had it right when she advised ''finish your carrots.''