You've may have heard the adage “You are what you eat.” But what you eat also may affect how well you see the world, both now and in the future. Certain nutrients — including those that come from carrots — really are important for eye health. It seems that Bugs Bunny was onto something with his frequent carrot munching.
The good news is, you don't need to reinvent your diet if you've been heeding the advice of your primary care physician or cardiologist. “Most people know about eating the right way to keep their heart healthy. The same diet — one that's low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains — keeps your eyes healthy,” says Marguerite McDonald, M.D., clinical professor of ophthalmology at the New York University School of Medicine and Tulane University Health Sciences Center.
Consuming a balanced, largely plant-based diet will help your eyes, but here's a closer look at six nutrients that can have a particularly powerful effect on protecting your eye health and vision.
Simply put, “the retina needs vitamin A to function,” says Milam A. Brantley, M.D., an associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The retina, which is the layer of cells that lines the back wall inside the eye, senses light and sends signals to the brain that allow you to see. Consuming sufficient amounts of vitamin A also helps with night vision and dry eye, both of which become bigger challenges as people get older. Your body converts beta-carotene in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables — such as carrots, sweet potato, cantaloupe, pumpkin and winter squash — into vitamin A.;