Updated on 

August 2, 2022

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Are Carrots Really Good for Your Eyes?

Why Are Carrots Good For Your Eyes?

Carrots are delicious and highly nutritious. They’re root vegetables that are good for your health.

There are many reasons to incorporate carrots into your diet. Most importantly, they benefit your gut and immune system. They’re also good for night vision and overall eye health.

What Antioxidants and Vitamins are in Carrots?

Like most vegetables, carrots are full of antioxidants and vitamins. Eating carrots is an excellent way to boost your eye health.

Carrots also contain beta carotene and lutein, two antioxidants that can help prevent eye damage from free radicals. Free radicals are compounds that cause cell damage and chronic illnesses, including eye diseases.11

Your body converts beta carotene, which gives carrots an orange color, into vitamin A. Vitamin A is known to improve night vision and fight night blindness.3, 10, 18

Yellow carrots contain more lutein.14 Lutein helps prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Age-related macular degeneration causes your vision to blur over time. In some cases, it can lead to total vision loss.1, 12, 13

Lutein from yellow carrots is 65% as bioavailable as lutein from supplements. Bioavailability refers to your body’s ability to absorb and use lutein.

Are Carrots Better Cooked or Raw?

Your body best absorbs beta carotene from cooked carrots. Processing can significantly improve the bioavailability of carrot carotenes.9 

Carrot puree, for example, is a great source of beta carotene.4 Your body can respond to beta carotene in cooked carrots, like a puree, within 6 hours of eating your meal.

Raw carrots are still good for your health. However, the best benefits come from carrots boiled for less than 15 minutes. That’s because boiled carrots preserve carotenoids better and contain more fiber than raw carrots.

Store fresh carrots for up to 21 days at 20 degrees Celsius or up to 56 days at 4 degrees Celsius.5

Other Foods That Benefit Eye Health

Carrots are not the only type of food that benefits your eye health. Here are some other vitamin- and antioxidant-rich foods you should consider incorporating into your diet to boost your eyesight and prevent problems with your vision.

  • Dark leafy greens. Leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens are high in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for your eyes.15
  • Citrus fruits. Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C and help prevent oxidative damage in the eyes. Vitamin C delays the onset of cataracts post vitrectomy, which happens in up to 80% of patients within two years.8
  • Fatty fish. Certain fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids. These protect your retinas from inflammation and age-related issues.6
  • Nuts and seeds. Certain nuts and seeds like peanuts and sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E. This vitamin is an antioxidant that fights free radicals that can damage cells.15, 16, 20
  • Meat. Beef and other types of meat that are high in zinc can benefit your eye health and improve vision problems. However, too much red meat can have negative effects on your health, so remember to keep a balanced diet rich in all nutrients.15

Additional Eye Health Tips

Incorporating carrots into a well-balanced diet is key to improving your eyesight. But there are other steps you can take to enhance your vision.

Follow these additional tips for healthier eyes:

  • Use outdoor eyewear to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Wearing sunglasses even in low-light settings can help keep your eyes healthy.2
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products. Smoking tobacco is commonly linked to cataracts and dysfunctional tear syndrome. It may also contribute to the development of diabetes, which can affect your eyes.7, 17
  • Limit your screen time. The blue light from devices like your smartphone or laptop can take a toll on your eyesight.19
  • Maintain an active lifestyle. Exercise helps to combat diseases like diabetes.7

Get routine eye exams. Staying on top of your eye health with regular visits to the eye doctor helps prevent problems and treat existing ones.

20 Cited Research Articles
  1. Abdel-Aal, El-Sayed M, et al. “Dietary Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Carotenoids and Their Role in Eye Health.” Nutrients, MDPI, 9 Apr. 2013.
  2. Behar-Cohen, Francine, et al. “Ultraviolet Damage to the Eye Revisited: Eye-Sun Protection Factor (E-SPF®), a New Ultraviolet Protection Label for Eyewear.” Clinical Ophthalmology (Auckland, N.Z.), Dove Medical Press, 2014.
  3. Clifford, Luke J, et al. “Reversible Night Blindness – a Reminder of the Increasing Importance of Vitamin A Deficiency in the Developed World.” Journal of Optometry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2013.
  4. Edwards, Allison J, et al. “Alpha- and Beta-Carotene from a Commercial Puree Are More Bioavailable to Humans than from Boiled-Mashed Carrots, as Determined Using an Extrinsic Stable Isotope Reference Method.” The Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  5. Effect of Storage and Cooking on β-Carotene Isomers in Carrots.” Daucus.
  6. EY, SanGiovanni, et al. “The Role of Omega-3 Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Health and Disease of the Retina.” Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  7. Lee, Ryan, et al. “Epidemiology of Diabetic Retinopathy, Diabetic Macular Edema and Related Vision Loss.” Eye and Vision (London, England), BioMed Central, 30 Sept. 2015.
  8. Lim, Julie C, et al. “Vitamin C and the Lens: New Insights into Delaying the Onset of Cataract.” Nutrients, MDPI, 14 Oct. 2020.
  9. Livny, O; Reifen, R; Levy, I; Madar, Z; Faulks, R; Southon, S; Schwartz, B; “Beta-Carotene Bioavailability from Differently Processed Carrot Meals in Human Ileostomy Volunteers.” European Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  10. LJ Ghavami, A, et al. “The Effect of Food Preparation on the Bioavailability of Carotenoids from Carrots Using Intrinsic Labeling.” The British Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  11. Lobo, V, et al. “Free Radicals, Antioxidants and Functional Foods: Impact on Human Health.” Pharmacognosy Reviews, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, July 2010.
  12. Meyers, KJ; Mares, et al. “Genetic Evidence for Role of Carotenoids in Age-Related Macular Degeneration in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS).” Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  13. Moeller, SM, et al. “Associations between Intermediate Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS): Ancillary Study of the Women's Health Initiative.” Archives of Ophthalmology (Chicago, Ill. : 1960), U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  14. Molldrem, Kirsten L, et al. “Lutein and β-Carotene from Lutein-Containing Yellow Carrots Are Bioavailable in Humans.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 July 2004.
  15. Rasmussen, Helen M, et al. “Nutrients for the Aging Eye.” Clinical Interventions in Aging, Dove Medical Press, 2013.
  16. SanGiovanni, JP, et al.“The Relationship of Dietary Carotenoid and Vitamin A, E, and C Intake with Age-Related Macular Degeneration in a Case-Control Study: Areds Report No. 22.” Archives of Ophthalmology (Chicago, Ill. : 1960), U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  17. Stone, Donald U. “Tobacco Smoking and Blindness - the Ignored Epidemic.Saudi Journal of Ophthalmology : Official Journal of the Saudi Ophthalmological Society, Elsevier, 2016.
  18. Tanumihardjo, Sherry A. “Vitamin A: Biomarkers of Nutrition for Development.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, American Society for Nutrition, Aug. 2011.
  19. Vicente-Tejedor, Javier, et al. “Removal of the Blue Component of Light Significantly Decreases Retinal Damage after High Intensity Exposure.” PloS One, Public Library of Science, 15 Mar. 2018.
  20. Vitamin E.” The Nutrition Source, 5 July 2022. 
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
AnnaMarie’s work as a staff writer for Vision Center spans ophthalmology, optometry and basic optic procedures to preventative eye care. Inspired to help readers see the world more clearly, she writes about everything from finding the appropriate eyeglasses and contacts to treating and preventing eye diseases to getting corrective surgeries to improve vision.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/annamarie/
Author: AnnaMarie Houlis  | UPDATED August 2, 2022
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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