Sorry if you heard this from your mother, but eating more carrots will probably not have much of an effect on your night vision. Carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and leafy green vegetables all contain beta-carotene which is a carotenoid. That means that they contain a pro-vitamin that is converted to vitamin A in the body but on an as-needed basis. So if you already have a balanced diet, the excessive consumption of carrots won’t have much effect on your vitamin A levels.
Another source of vitamin A is from liver, cod-liver oil, fish oil and butter. They contain retinoids which, when consumed in excess, directly increase your vitamin A levels. So as is the advice on most dietary factors, balance is the key.
Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the US but, in keeping with our last column about worldwide eye care, is seen with malnutrition in developing countries. Especially susceptible are pregnant women and small children. In fact, 1/3 of all children under 5 worldwide have a vitamin A deficiency. The result can be night vision problems and poor resistance to infection. One place where we do see vitamin A deficiency in the US is with alcohol abuse. Alcoholics tend to have a poor diet and the retinoids they do consume are broken down faster.
They bottom line is eat your vegetables, don’t smoke or quit if you do, and wear sunglasses on a regular basis. These are your best strategies for maintaining good vision. Also important is regular eye care. That means a complete, dilated eye exam at least every two years or more frequently if you have diabetes, macular degeneration or glaucoma.
Dr. Mark German is an Optometrist at Lakeshore Eye Care Professionals practicing with Dr. Martha Jay and Dr. Josephine-Liezl Cueto. He welcomes patients of all ages into his practice and accepts most insurance plans.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.LakeShoreVision.com