Q: Do carrots really help your eyesight? Both my wife and I have had cataract surgery. Is there anything that we can eat to help protect our vision? ~ V.O., Bath, OH
A: Carrots contain lutein (LOO-teen) and zeaxanthin (zee-uh-ZAN-thin) which are nutrients that may protect the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin are xanthophylls that belong to the carotenoid family of organic pigments. Xanthophylls are found naturally in plants and give fruits and vegetables their pretty colors. They are found in the flesh of the fruit and vegetable as well as in the leaves.
Cataracts and ARMD
Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow-orange-red pigments that accumulate in the lens of the human eye and the central part of the retina (macula) and filter harmful components of sunlight. In ongoing research studies, both lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to help protect against eye diseases, such as cataracts (caused by oxidative stress and solar damage to the lens of the eye). Some studies have shown these nutrients actually lowered the need for cataract surgery by up to 20% with up to a 40% reduction in the risk for age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). ARMD is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. Continue reading “Are Carrots Good for Cataracts?”