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Optometry Insight: Carrots and Vision

Do carrots really enhance your vision? While optometrists affirm that the orange root vegetables are made up of large amounts of a beta-carotene that has proven to be very good for your eyes, carrots do not substitute for suitable corrective eye care.

Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, or orange pigment that changes into vitamin A after it's absorbed in the human body. Vitamin A helps to protect the cornea, or surface of the eye, and has been proven to be preventative for a number of eye diseases such as corneal ulcers. Vitamin A, an antioxidant compound, guards the cornea to decrease the risk of ocular infections as well as other infectious illnesses. Vitamin A is also known to be an effective treatment for dry eye syndrome and other eye conditions. A lack of vitamin A (which is be more common in underdeveloped countries) often causes night blindness, corneal ulcers and retinal damage which can contribute to 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 obtained from foods such as beef, liver, whole milk or cheese. Vitamin A that is obtained from produce exists in the form of ''provitamin A'' carotenoids, which are converted to retinol after the nutrients are digested. In addition to carrots, carotenoids can be found in 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 health. Even though carrots won't correct optical distortion which causes near or far-sightedness, mother was right when she said ''eat your carrots.''