Easter is coming soon and we wanted to demystify some myths about an animal that we often associate with vision: the rabbit!
First of all, it must be understood that the rabbit's eyes are very different from those of humans. We can start by thinking of the location of the eyes on the rabbit's head: they are placed on each side of its skull, which allows it to have a field of vision of almost 360 degrees. The rabbit has two small blind spots: one of 5 degrees just above its nose and another 5 degrees behind it. Their peripheral vision allows them to always be alert. The rabbit's visual system is designed to quickly and effectively detect approaching predators from almost any direction.
Rabbits have good vision from a distance but do not see very well up close. They see in hues of greens and blues, convenient given that most of their food is green. They are able to distinguish green from blue, but they cannot specify them in the same way as humans do. This means they have limited vision when it comes to colour, probably due to two different categories of cone cells (blue and green). They therefore have a retina rod-cone ratio that is higher than that of the human eye.
In cartoons, we often see rabbits, like Bugs Bunny for example, eating carrots which as we know, are often associated with eye health. But really, can eating carrots really improve your vision? Is it a myth or a reality? The answer is: yes, to some extent, eating carrots can help improve your vision.
Our body uses beta carotene to turn it into vitamin A which is essential for the proper functioning of your eyes. Vitamin A helps the eye convert light into a signal that can be transmitted to the brain, allowing you to see in low light conditions. In contexts where malnourished people suffer from extreme vitamin A deficiency, such as in Nepal or India, vitamin or beta-carotene supplements can significantly improve night vision. On the other hand, it is still really complicated to determine how many carrots you should be eating in your day-to-day to improve your vision. Most of the studies available on the subject have so far focused on the benefits of beta carotene or vitamin A supplements, and not on carrots in particular. In a nutshell: carrots can certainly help keep your eyes healthy, but do not expect them to dramatically improve your vision.
The Easter Bunny is about to arrive with a basket full of chocolate eggs! Spoil yourself with sweet treats, but do not forget to include vitamin A-rich foods in your diet to ensure you maintain good vision health. On behalf of the IRIS team, we wish you a Happy Easter!