It has long been thought that carrots, rich in beta carotene, could improve our eyesight. A new study calls into question the role of beta carotene in protecting our vision. Results lead us to believe that beta carotene supplements are powerless in delaying or preventing macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in ageing people. Close to 80,000 Canadians are diagnosed with this disease every year. Macular degeneration inevitably leads to a progressive loss of vision in the center of the field of vision.
A large study had previously demonstrated that beta carotene, when taken with other vitamins and zinc, could delay or prevent vision loss attributed to age-related macular degeneration. However, the new study shows that beta carotene supplements alone do not prevent this disease.
These results are based on data gathered from over 21,000 male doctors who were followed for an average of twelve years. The doctors were randomly assigned to take either a tablet containing 50 milligrams of beta carotene every second day or a placebo pill. The participants did not know which one they were given. Almost the same amount of men suffered from macular degeneration in both groups, suggesting that beta carotene neither helped nor hindered the evolution of the disease. According to researchers, it is unlikely that the other vitamins and minerals contained in over-the-counter eye-protecting supplements are effective in preventing macular degeneration.
The very best way to preserve your eyes is not terribly complicated, nor is it revolutionary. In addition to protecting them from the sun, we should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day! This combination of nutrients seems to be the most important factor in keeping your eyes healthy.
So why not eat your carrots with a spring salad on the side for your pick-nick lunch? And don’t forget your shades!