Are carrots really good for your eyes?

For NaBloPoMo November 2014 my challenge is to upload a post every day thoughout the month. That’s 30 days and 30 posts. The more page views I get per day the more money I will donate to the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT). Help support my challenge by logging on daily and donating directly http://www.chect.org.uk. 

Yesterday’s total page views: 73
Carrots will make you see better. This is probably the most common eye myth we know, told to us from when we were young, probably to make us eat more veggies. And still to this day is it one of the most common statements patients say to me. Half joking but half serious. The question is, is it really a myth? The answer is yes and no. No, carrots won’t actually make you read more letters on the chart or reduce your need for glasses, but carrots do contain a lot of beta- carotene which the body converts to vitamin A and is very important for overall eye health, particularly in the retina. So yes eating carrots are good for your eyes. As is eating a number of other things such as omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish. But of all these antioxidants are probably one of the key nutrients for not only maintaining eye health but also general health including things like cholesterol and cancer.

Antioxidants are nutrients that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals—molecules associated with ageing. Free radicals are atoms lacking an electron which as a result make them stable. In order to gain stability they steal electrons from other cells there by causing cell damage. This is known as oxidative stress and is one of the things cause by UV rays. Free radicals are thought to cause eye diseases including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Antioxidants keep the creation of free radicals under control and help protect and repair cells damaged by them. Common antioxidants found in our food include vitamins A, C & E, selenium and zinc. They often occur in brightly coloured foods. Examples are oranges, red berries, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, egg yolk, green and black  tea watermelon and broccoli, although this list is by no means exhaustive.

I think this kind of research and information is fascinating – it’s obviously the geeky scientist in me. I’m sure it’s by no means the answer for everyone as I’m sure there are many people that eat all the right things and are still unfortunately affected by illnesses however it is definitely something I feel we should bear in mind when look at what we consume on a daily basis. Particularly if it gives me an excuse to have the occasional glass of red wine and some dark chocolate, both excellent sources of antioxidants in case you weren’t aware!

 

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