To ease kid’s suspicion of vegetables, parents often feed them the adage that carrots will spare them from glasses. Is there any truth to this belief that carrots are good for your eyes? Was mom right?
Well, yes and no. Carrots won’t improve your visual acuity if you have less than perfect vision. For example, a diet of carrots won’t give a blind person 20/20 vision. But the vitamins found in the vegetable can help promote overall eye health. Carrots contain beta-carotene, a substance that the body converts to vitamin A, which is an important nutrient for the eyes.
The supposed link between carrots and markedly acute vision is a matter of lore, not science. It is lore of the deliberately manufactured type.
Carrots became specifically associated with vision, particularly night vision, during World War II. The British Royal Air Force published a story reporting that their skilled fighter pilot John “Cats’ Eyes” Cunningham could thank a steady diet of carrots for his night vision flying prowess. In response to the story, many British people began to eat more carrots to improve their vision so that they could see better during the compulsory blackouts common at this time. Although this made for a great story, it was propaganda put out to conceal the fact that the Royal Air Force was actually using radar to locate Nazi bombers during the night. The story ‘explained’ why suddenly, German planes were being shot down with more frequency.
Although British propaganda may have lent carrots a bit more vision-related cachet than they deserve, there is no doubt that the vitamins found in carrots can promote overall eye health. So, your mom was right, eat your vegetables. Keep your eyes healthy with a yearly exam at Unique Optique.
Thanks to Snopes and How Stuff Works.