Live Well: Can Vitamin A Improve Your Eyesight?

When you parents told you to eat your carrots because “they’re good for your eyes,” they weren’t just trying to get you to eat more vegetables. Carrots by themselves certainly are not solely responsible for your eyesight, but the vitamin A that is contained in carrots is definitely an important factor in your overall eye health.

What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds and these compounds are responsible for the maintenance or regulation of a variety of functions in your body. There are two types of dietary vitamin A: preformed vitamin A and pro-vitamin A. Preformed vitamin A is prevalent in meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Pro-vitamin A is found in plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables. The most common form of pro-vitamin A found in plant-based sources is beta-carotene.

Vitamin A and Eyesight
Vitamin A does promote good visions and it is especially important for your ability to see in the dark or areas that are not well lit. This fat-soluble vitamin is also important because it aids your eyes in distinguishing colors. Another reason vitamin A is so essential for eyesight is that this vitamin protects your cornea, the surface of your eye. The mucous membrane that covers your eyes is responsible for acting as a barrier to keep viruses and bacteria your eyes, preventing infection. Vitamin A is so crucial to your eyesight that frequently the earliest and most common signs of a vitamin A deficiency are night blindness and/or vision loss.

Vitamin A and Overall Eye Health
In addition to improving and protecting your eyesight, there are multiple other eye disorders and conditions that vitamin A helps combat. Dry eye syndrome is uncomfortable, but highly treatable with eye drops. Vitamin A can fight some types of eye inflammation and the use of vitamin A eye drops can help cure dry eye syndrome. One study found that using over-the-counter lubricating eye drops with vitamin A was every bit as effective as using a more expensive prescription eye drop treatment for dry eye.

A study sponsored by the National Eye Institute suggests that vitamin A in conjunction with other antioxidants may play a role in decreasing your risk of macular degeneration, a condition that results in vision loss. Macular degeneration affects 10 million Americans, more than glaucoma and cataracts combined. The study focused on age-related macular degeneration and it indicated a 25% reduction in the risk of age-related macular degeneration over a six-year period.

Vitamin A not only improves vision, it also prevents the risk of vision loss and increases your overall eye health. The best way to get some added vitamin A is to increase your consumption of foods that are rich in vitamin A. Dietary sources of vitamin A include carrots, beef liver, kale, spinach and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A supplements are also an option for increasing your vitamin A intake and your parents were right….carrots are good for your eyes.