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  • Writer's pictureRichard Kadri-Langford

What impact does diet have on your eyesight?

Do carrots really help you see in the dark?

Well, yes Sadly, no matter how many carrots you eat, you’ll never have superpower levels of night vision. That link between carrots and eyesight comes from the Second World War when the British Government wanted to disguise the fact that their success in night raids was partly due to the invention of radar. [1].

Nevertheless, there is a link between carrots and eyesight. In tandem with other highly coloured vegetables such as squash, sweet potatoes and spinach, carrots contain high levels of beta-carotene [2]. This is converted by the body into Vitamin A, which is an essential contributor to good eyesight. So much so that a lack of Vitamin A has been shown to be one cause of night blindness.

But carrots aren’t the only contributors to good eyesight. In tandem with Healthy Eating Week, which runs from the 13th to the 17th of June, we thought we’d take a look at some of the other foods which can make a difference to eyes and eyesight, starting with Vitamin C.

Perhaps typically thought of as occurring in citrus fruits, Vitamin C can also be found in foods such as broccoli, potatoes and sweet red peppers. Vitamin C is generally present in high concentrations in the lens of the eye and surrounding ocular humours, helping to protect the lens from UV light. Low concentrations of Vitamin C, particularly in older age, have been shown to be linked to cataract formation. [3] Vitamin E deficiency has also been associated with cataracts, another reason to ensure that the right balance of nuts and leafy green vegetables is in your diet.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may also be partially linked to vitamin deficiency. One 2009 study concluded that “daily supplementation with folic acid/B6/B12 may reduce the risk of AMD.” [4]

In addition, the American Optometric Association [4] commented that Vitamins A and E, as well as Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Zinc, could help to slow down the progress of AMD.

What the above demonstrates, is that a well-balanced diet, with plenty of fresh ingredients, could help with eye health. But watch out for highly processed, fatty or sugary foods. Overindulging in these types of foods could lead to a host of conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, none of which are good for long-term eye health.

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