Expert Advice: Does eating carrots improve vision?
Host Amber Smith: Here's some expert advice from ophthalmologist, Dr. Mark Breazzano from Upstate Medical University. Does eating carrots keep eyes healthy?
Mark Breazzano, MD: Carrots can help keep eyes healthy. However, it is in moderation, like many other vegetables that are part of a nutritious and balanced diet. Some of it has been overhyped, a little bit. And some of the history of that actually dates back to World War II, where the British Air Force actually had radar technology that was helpful against the German Air Force. And unbeknownst to the Germans, they were actually able to fight them off and keep Britain safe. And, as part of this effort in keeping the morale high for the allies, they attributed it to the "cat eye vision" that the British pilots had -- and they had easy access to carrots and planting carrots. So instead of eating things like ice cream and of that sort, they were actually eating lots of carrots and putting carrots, frozen carrots, even, in pies. And they were relatively easier to grow. And so there was sort of this -- for lack of a better term -- a propaganda type of effort to increase the amount of carrot production and consumption. And so that translated into this myth of getting ultra vision from carrots.
But in reality, carrots produce beta carotene, and beta carotene is a provitamin carotenoid, basically a molecule that needs to be converted to vitamin A that our body can use. The bio availability, as the term is called, or the ability to do that conversion, actually lowers the more that you eat. And so you can eat as much as you want, but it's not going to help produce any more visual success for your eye. So as long as you're getting enough of the daily recommended allotment of vitamin A, and you have been doing that for a while, and you have no issues with your gastrointestinal tract that you're aware of over time, you should be more than fine with a few carrots a day and not overthinking it too much.
Host Amber Smith: You've been listening to ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Breazzano from Upstate Medical University.