“Eat your carrots!” is a refrain that conjures nostalgia—and sometimes dread—for many of us. But it looks like parents around the world were on to something. Carrots won’t give you the eyesight of a superhero, but they contain enough beta-carotene to contribute to healthier eyes.
Beta-carotene is used by the body to produce vitamin A, which is essential to eyesight. As explained by Dr. Netan Choudhry, Medical Director of Vitreous Retina Macular Specialists of Toronto, studies have shown that beta-carotene can slow the progression of dry age-related macular degeneration (dry-AMD) to wet-AMD.
Beta-carotene has been linked to higher incidences of lung cancer in former smokers, but it can be replaced with other ingredients in a cocktail that is just as effective. If you have AMD or a history of it in your family, speak to your ophthalmologist or family doctor about the appropriate supplement.
And there’s more that AMD patients can do, according to Dr. Choudhry. A diet of fish and green vegetables is beneficial, and if you smoke, quitting is a must. Physical activity is important as well: many of the approaches to cardiac health apply to vision health. And of course, regular eye exams are key, especially if you are living with AMD or another eye disease.
Vision Quest is the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ premier educational series, and its focus is on vision science as well as information and resources for maintaining good eye health.
To learn more about vitamins and vision loss, make sure you listen to Dr. Choudhry’s full talk that was recorded during a recent patient education event.