Archive for June, 2011

Carrots do help guard the health of your eyes, but do not give you "super vision"

It’s not that carrots aren’t nutritious,¬†they are¬†indeed important in keeping your eyes healthy (and actually, your vision would in fact deteriorate if you had a carotene or vitamin A deficiency), however they do not magically enhance your vision, or a fighter jet pilot’s night vision for that matter. (source 1)

And so the little fib was fabricated, in World War II, but for good reason. The Royal Air Force had a pilot, John Cunningham, with an exceptionally good record of shooting down enemy planes at night. They even nicknamed him, “Cat Eyes” and boasted that it was his love of carrots that gave him his super-human night vision. The British government then began a whole campaign about carrots, which was one food in plentiful supply during the war, celebrating their nutritional value and saying that they would help improve your night vision during the blackouts which were frequent in WWII. (source 2)

In reality, the Royal Air Force was trying to hide the fact that the UK was the first country to successfully employ RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) and that was giving their pilots an edge while shooting down bombers at night. The theory of carrots improving the RAF’s night vision did not raise suspicion among the Germans, carrots enhancing the eyes was already a theme in German folklore. (source 2)

Somehow, over the years, the myth was never fully debunked and to this day, I still have patients asking if carrots will eliminate their need for glasses or reduce their prescription. It will not. But it is important to incorporate vegetables and fruits into your regular diet as this will help keep your eyes well-nourished and healthy and can even slow the progression of certain eye conditions and illnesses like cataracts and macular degeneration. A high dosage of Vitamin A is also recommended for patients with the most common form of Retinitis Pigmentosa but only under careful watch and monitoring by their doctor. (source 3) Never over-dose or mega-dose Vitamin A, just like too little vitamin A can harm you, so can too much! (source 4) As a general guideline, adults over age 19 should be getting between 2000-3000 IU (international units) of vitamin A daily in their diets, that amount can be found in one cup of spinach (raw) which contains 2813 IU of vitamin A or if you are not a spinach fan, the good old carrot does provide plenty of vitamin A, about 8666 IU in one large, raw carrot (about 7 1/2 inches long).

So, in conclusion, carrots will keep you super healthy and we’ll just leave it at that. And if you still think carrots are the magical remedy for your need for vision correction, just take a look at the picture at the top of this article. Even “Dr. Carrot” is wearing glasses.

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