Most of us grew up being told to eat plenty of carrots, the reasoning being that it would improve our eyesight. That begs the question, can what we eat actually affect our vision, or is that just an old wives’ tale? If what we eat actually does have an effect on our vision, what foods should we be eating to maintain good vision and which foods should we avoid?

Can Carrots Actually Correct Your Vision?
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite eyesight-friendly vegetable, the carrot. Carrots actually gained their fame from the British Royal Air Force propaganda machine during World War II. To disguise their use of radar technology to take down enemy aircraft at night, pilots were encouraged to tell the public that a steady diet of carrots was the source of their enhanced night vision. So does that mean carrots don’t do anything to help your eyes? Not necessarily. While eating carrots won’t cure conditions such as astigmatism and nearsightedness, the beta-carotene (the nutrient that gives carrots their sweet taste and orange color) is integral to preventing childhood blindness. A diet rich in beta-carotene can also reduce your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Other good sources of beta-carotene include pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.

Can Other Foods Improve Eyesight?
Another important nutrient that can protect your vision is lutein. Lutein protects your eyes by increasing the amount of pigment in the macula, which is in the center of the retina. This antioxidant prevents light damage that can lead to macular degeneration and also slows the progression of this disease. The richest sources of lutein are leafy greens such as kale and spinach as well as egg yolks.

Which Foods Negatively Affect Eyesight?
Since your diet can play a role in protecting the health of your eyes, it stands to reason that you can what you eat can put your eyes at risk as well. Studies do seem to support this—people who eat a high amount of sugars and starchy carbs are at a higher risk of developing macular degeneration.

In short, while your diet can’t help you ditch your glasses, what you eat can affect the health of your eyes, which in turn can affect your vision. A diet rich in leafy greens and vegetables will protect the health of your eyes, while too much sugar and starchy carbs will put your eyesight at risk. You may want to speak with a professional, such as those at All About Eyes, to find out if your diet is affecting your vision. When it comes to your vision you want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to keep it where you want it. That is why seeking professional help can always be a good idea.

Author's Bio: 

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer from Sacramento, California. A mother of two, Hannah enjoys writing on blogs of all niches.