“Carrots help you see.” “Carrots improve eyesight.” “Carrots give you night-vision.” It’s almost guaranteed that you’ve heard someone tell you to eat your carrots if you want better eyesight, but that myth actually started from a well-crafted lie.
The carrot-eyesight lie was born from war. During World War 2, the Germans were running bombing raids on London in the dead of night. But unknown to the Germans (and everyone else) the British Royal Air Force developed Radar around this time.
Radar is a way of tracking objects—like German planes—with radio waves even without being able to see them. With this new technology, the British planes were able to shoot down more and more German planes in pitch black darkness.
This new technology was top-secret at the time. To keep it under wraps, the English government told news reporters the reason for their success was that they were feeding their pilots a heavy diet of carrots to improve their nighttime vision.
The government even created flyer advertisements to post around the city to that urged their citizens to eat more carrots to help improve their nighttime eyesight.
There’s no record of the Germans falling for the lie, but there are hearsay stories of German pilots eating more carrots around this time. Plus, people all around the world today correlate carrots with improving eyesight. So, to some degree, the lie worked.
While carrots help to keep your eyes healthy, they don’t improve vision. Eating a wheelbarrow full of carrots every day won’t give you 20/20 vision and won’t let you see better in the dark.
But carrots do have a lot of Vitamin A, which can help reduce the risk of cataract and macular degeneration in the eyes. You don’t need to eat an absurd amount of carrots in order to maintain the health of your eyes, but a normal serving will help.