Beta-carotene, Vitamin A & Eye Health

Foods high in Beta-carotene & Vitamin A

Orange and yellow coloured fruits and vegetables such as mangos, apricots, peaches, yam and carrots contain high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A.  Vitamins A is essential for overall growth and health but particularly of eyes and skin.  Beta-carotene is found in many foods and is converted in the body to vitamin A. 

Night Blindness & Vitamin A

A lack of vitamin A can cause night blindness.  This is where it is not possible to see in the dark.  Adequate levels of beta-carotene in the eyes retina, enables the photoreceptors; rods and cones, to fire off electrical information to the brain.  But, if the levels of beta-carotene are too low, quality of vision decreases at night and there may be an increased incidence of glare and haze under normal light levels.  Night blindness can also lead to dry eyes and increased risk of eye infections, corneal ulcers and swollen eyelids.  A specific hereditary disease known as retinitis pigmentosa, may cause similar symptoms in its initial stages and has been treated with large amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin A.

Cataract & Vitamin A

Some research has shown that Vitamin A may prevent cataracts from forming.  This research is not however, conclusive.

Macular Degeneration & Vitamin A

Research has shown that vitamin A can help prevent macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness.

Supplements may come in the form of vitamin A or beta-carotene, which your body can change into vitamin A.  Tobacco can stop the body from absorbing vitamin A and alcohol can lower the levels of vitamin A.  Therefore, if you smoke and drink alcohol you may benefit from supplements.  However, beta-carotene may increase smokers' incidence of lung cancer and it may be advisable to control your diet, more than taking supplements.  Consult an eye care professional to find the best solution for you.

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