As children, many of us were told that if we ate our carrots we would improve our eyesight. This notion dates back to World War II and a British propaganda campaign claiming that carrots can help you see in the dark. Ultimately it is a myth, but it is based on a sliver of truth.

What can carrots do for your eyes?

Carrots are rich in beta carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A. Consuming beta carotene is important because vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness, a condition which affects a person’s ability to adjust their vision to low levels of light. However, night blindness is rare in the United States because most people in this country are getting enough vitamin A from their daily diet.

Carrots are not the only way to incorporate vitamin A into your diet. Sweet potatoes and leafy greens are packed with vitamin A. Other sources include dairy products, eggs, and oily fish. Unfortunately, eating heaps of carrots and other vitamin A rich foods will not give you super night vision or even 20/20 vision. However, a diet rich in vitamin A can play a part in helping you maintain your current vision.

Where did the myth come from?

The carrot myth started with a couple of British propaganda campaigns during World War II. One of these campaigns was led by the British Ministry of Information, whose job it was to hide technology critical to an Allied victory.

The Ministry needed to conceal the Royal Air Force’s new secret radar technology, so they attributed their pilots’ success at shooting down enemy planes at night to carrots. They claimed the pilots ate an abundance of carrots, which gave them superior night vision. It is unclear whether the Germans bought the carrot myth, but the British public generally believed that eating carrots would help them see better during citywide blackouts.

The carrot propaganda did not stop there. The British government also encouraged the consumption of carrots to lure consumers away from rationed foods, such as sugar, bacon, and butter. Carrots were promoted as a substitute for sugar in desserts. The Ministry of Food dispersed leaflets with recipes for carrot cake, carrot pudding, carrot flan, and even carrot marmalade.

How can you improve your vision?

Unfortunately eating a barrel of carrots will not improve your vision. However, if you are sick of wearing glasses or contacts, there are effective and permanent means to improve your vision. Thanks to recent advances in technology, more and more people are becoming prime candidates for laser eye surgery. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation to determine whether you are a good candidate for LASIK, contact Milan Eye Center by calling (678) 681-9834.

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