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The Eye Doctor Says: Eat Beta-Carotene for Eye Health

You may have heard that carrots improve night vision, but is this really true? Optometrists say that regardless of how many carrots you eat, they can't actually improve your eyesight. However, carrots do contain substantial amounts of beta-carotene, a vitamin that is very good for the health of your eyes and therefore consuming foods rich in beta-carotene is surely recommended for proper eye health.

Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, or orange pigment that converts into vitamin A after it's absorbed in the body. Vitamin A helps to protect the surface of the eye (cornea) and has been proven to prevent a number of eye diseases such as corneal ulcers. Vitamin A, an antioxidant compound, guards the surface of the eye to reduce the frequency of ocular infections and other infectious diseases. Vitamin A has also shown to be a successful solution for dry eyes as well as other eye disorders. A lack of vitamin A (which tends to be more common in poor and developing countries) is known to cause night blindness, corneal ulcers and retinal damage which can contribute to total blindness.

There are two types of vitamin A, which relate to the nutritional source they come from. Vitamin A derived from an animal is called Retinol and can be found in foods such as beef, chicken liver, whole milk or cheese. Vitamin A that is obtained from produce exists in the form of ''provitamin A'' carotenoids, which convert to retinol after the nutrients are absorbed. In addition to carrots, carotenoids can be found in colorful fruits and vegetables such as oranges, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and cantaloupes.

There is no doubt that through most forms, vitamin A contributes to the health of your eyes and your total health. Although carrots won't correct optical distortion which causes vision impairments, mother was right when she said ''finish your carrots.''