Carrots have the reputation of being the vegetable for "good vision", especially night vision. Is there any truth to this? Find out how carrots affect your eyesight.
Did your mom tell you to eat carrots to see better in the dark? Carrots have the reputation of being the veggie for vision, particularly night vision. But can carrots help you see in the dark – or is this simply an old wives’ tale?
Can Carrots Help You See in the Dark Better?
The vitamin A in carrots is required for effective night vision, and if you don’t have enough of it, your ability to see at night is reduced. On the other hand, eating carrots won’t improve your overall visual acuity as most people think.
Carrots and Eyesight: How Eating Carrots Helps Your Vision
Carrots are a good source of carotenoids. Some of these carotenoids are converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is needed for the production of rhodopsin, the visual pigment that allows you to see at night. Without enough vitamin A, night vision would be severely compromised.
Vitamin is also important for the health of glands that secrete mucous – including glands that lubricate the cornea of the eye. Too little vitamin A can lead to chronic dry eyes and painful erosions of the cornea from excessive dryness. Eating carotenoid-rich sources such as carrots, some of which can be converted to vitamin A, helps to prevent loss of night vision and keep the corneas moist and healthy.
Eating Carrots is a Good Up to a Point
Eating excessive amounts of carrots won’t increase your visual acuity, but too little can cause dry eyes and night blindness. In other words, eating carrots is a good nutritional move, but don’t eat pounds of them or take vitamin A supplements in hopes of improving your vision.
Too much vitamin A can lead to liver toxicity, hair loss, and increase the risk of fractures. Eating an excessive number of carrots can also cause a yellow-orange discoloration of the skin from too much beta-carotene.
Can Carrots Help You See in the Dark: The Bottom Line?
Vitamin A from the carotenoids in carrots are important for overall eye health and healthy night vision, but eating large amounts of carrots won’t give you better vision. Enjoy the many health benefits of carrots, but don’t count on them to give you perfect eyesight.
Merck Manual. Eighteenth edition. 2006.