Carrots won’t improve vision, but are good for eye health

While they have nutrients that promote eye health, the claim that carrots can actually improve your eyesight dates back to British WWII propaganda.

Parents often teach their children from an early age to eat all vegetables if they want to grow up healthy. Sometimes, adults urge children to eat specific vegetables for specific benefits.

Such a connection is often made – eat your carrots to get better eyesight.

We asked our readers what food-related legends they’ve heard over the years, and many responded with The classic claim about carrots improves eyesight. Nutrient-rich vegetables have all sorts of health benefits, so is this really true?


Will eating carrots improve your vision?



This is misleading.

No, eating carrots won’t improve your eyesight, as long as you don’t have a vitamin A deficiency. Although they have nutrients that promote eye health, the belief is that carrots can actually improve your eyesight. Improving your eyesight stems from British World War II propaganda.


Carrots contain vitamins that can help maintain good eye health, but your diet most likely already includes many of those vitamins with or without carrots. Adding vitamins from carrots won’t help you see any better.

The reason people started to believe that carrots would improve your vision was because of British World War II propaganda.

During World War II, the UK successfully used radar to track and shoot down German bombers, the US Department of Defense said. To prevent the Germans from detecting the radar system, the UK tried to use several methods of diversion. Their citizens, the British government claims, are really good at seeing planes.

“So to hide that, they claim that basically what’s happening here is that carrots are improving their pilots’ vision,” said Bwalya Lungu, PhD, professor of culture. folklore and food science at the University of California Davis. “That’s what’s improving their vision; It’s because they’re eating too many carrots.”

Examples of this can be found in a British wartime recipe flyer from 1943 stating that carrots help people “see better during a power outage” and a propaganda poster that reads: : “Eat carrots and green or yellow leafy vegetables… rich in vitamin ‘A,’ essential for night vision.

But in fact, carrots are not enough to help your eyes actually improve eyesight as the propaganda suggests.

“Carrots won’t improve your vision if you have less than perfect vision,” says the Illinois-based Gailey Eye Clinic. “A carrot diet won’t give blind people 20/20 vision.”

According to the Winchester Hospital in Massachusetts, carrots contain a pigment called beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A — a vitamin important for healthy eyes. The Gailey Eye Clinic says vitamin A can prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, and excessive vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness.

But you don’t need much vitamin A to maintain good eye health.

Winchester Hospital says a standard, balanced diet in countries like the United States includes plenty of vitamin A. Eating a lot of carrots won’t make enough difference to affect vision. Your eye health and vision will only benefit from foods rich in vitamin A if your body is deficient in vitamin A, which is often the case in poorer countries where people sometimes have low dietary intake. more diverse.

Lungu says some research shows that vitamin A, and therefore carrots, can slightly improve the eyesight of people with severe vitamin A deficiency so that their vision goes from “poor” to “less bad”. slightly”.

Lungu says a study of Nepalese women with vitamin A deficiency and high rates of night blindness found that participants given extra vitamin A had lower rates of night blindness than those who did not receive an increase in vitamin A intake.

But this kind of improvement is only possible because night blindness among Nepalese women is directly related to their vitamin A deficiency. Increasing your vitamin A intake won’t help much with any vision problems caused by factors outside of your vitamin A intake, such as astigmatism.

“If your vision problems aren’t related to vitamin A, your vision won’t change no matter how many carrots you eat,” the Gailey Eye Clinic summarizes.

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