I have grown up eating a lot of carrots. My mom loves carrots; she buys large bunches of them at the grocery store and eats at least a few of them at every meal. Whenever we teased her about her love of carrots, she would say, “I’m always going to have perfect eyesight from eating all these carrots!” But are carrots good for your eyes, really, or is that just a myth?
My mom was right; these brightly colored veggies offer some impressive benefits. Compounds called carotenoids help to promote good vision and prevent age-related macular degeneration. Lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene are just a few of these vision-promoting carotenoids.
Are Carrots Good for Your Eyes? The Proof is in Their Nutrients
Carrots contain three nutrients that are linked to maintaining and/or improving eye health:
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Several studies have linked low levels of lutein and zeaxanthin (two types of carotenoids) to advanced age-related macular degeneration, a disease of the eyes that leads to deterioration of the retina, which causes vision loss.[1-3] One study published in October 2015 found that people who ate the most lutein and zeaxanthin were 40% less likely to have advanced age-related macular degeneration. The researchers suggest that eating several servings of these vegetables per day is highly important for eye health.These two compounds may protect against the disease because they can absorb harmful light and they protect against free radical damage. People who already have age-related macular degeneration may also benefit from supplementing with these carotenoids; they have been shown to help improve markers of the disease and visual performance.[4,5]Both of these compounds are found in carrots, but they are even more concentrated in other food sources. Lutein and zeaxanthin are abundant in egg yolks; peppers; peaches; goji berries; and dark leafy veggies like broccoli, kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens, and more.[1,2]
- Beta-Carotene: Carrots are also rich sources of beta-carotene, which is known for contributing the orange pigment to fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene is also very good for eye health. Beta-carotene is considered a primary source of provitamin A in the diet. This means that it helps boost vitamin A levels in the body, which are essential to good vision, as vitamin A is related to how our brain turns light into vision. In one study, supplementation with beta-carotene, along with vitamins C and E, protected against age-related macular degeneration.
Boost Your Carrot Intake For Better Eye Health
If you were told that carrots were good for your eyes as a kid, like I was, then you can rest assured that it is true. Carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin can help promote good vision while preventing vision loss and conditions like age related macular degeneration.
Fortunately, carrots are completely versatile and can be eaten fresh or cooked into soups, stews, stir fries, and more. Try slicing up fresh carrots as an appetizer before dinner, grating them on a fresh garden salad, or cooking them up in the oven with some oil and seasonings.
Share Your Experience with Carrots
Did we adequately answer the question, “Are carrots good for you eyes?” Do you like carrots? How do you prepare them? Share your tips in the Comments section below.
 JAMA Ophthalmol. 2015 Oct 8:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]
 Am J Epidemiol. 2001 Mar 1;153(5):424-32.
 J Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2014 Feb 21;5(1):326.
 Retina. 2014 Sep;34(9):1757-66.
 Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Dec 16;56(1):252-8.
 Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:741-8.
 Arch Ophthalmol. 2001 Oct;119(10):1417-36.
Originally published in 2015, this post is regularly updated.