More than just the carrots: Steps on how to develop better night vision
Have you heard of the Carrot Myth? Many people attribute the ability to see in the dark to eating lots and lots of carrots. This thought was believed to have gained fame when captured Allied pilots during the World War II used this as an excuse to cover up their new radar technology from probing German soldiers. They had better night vision because they ate plenty of carrots. In the midst of all the chaos of war, that bit of anecdote wouldn’t have given those imprisoned pilots quite a laugh.
But their claims were not really far from the truth. The protein chemical that is responsible for our eyes’ ability to see in the dark actually comes from Vitamin A, which incidentally carrots are rich in. While eating carrots may not really do much in helping as see better in the dark, indulging in them and in other foods rich in Vitamin A can actually help maintain the amount of night vision we naturally already have.
Here are other things we can do to develop and maintain better night vision:Peripheral vision. Using this angle of vision can actually help see better in the dark. Looking at things sideways instead of directly allows for use of the rod cells in our retina, which functions better under low levels of light. Keeping the eyes flicking back and forth—thus using rod cells more—instead of focusing on a single sight can help them adjust better to the darkness.
Close your eyes. This is a pretty simple advice that most people tend to overlook. When moving from an area of high illumination into one of low lighting, close or better yet cover your eyes for about 10 seconds, giving them time to adjust. Special forces actually squeeze their eyes tightly for several seconds upon entering an area of darkness, and find that they have better night vision when they eventually open their eyes. A pirate’s eye patch, apparently, is more than just a fashion statement. Some pirates actually use them to keep one eye ready for seeing in the dark.
Shapes, not colors. Under dim lighting, the eyes lose its ability to distinguish between colors (they can only tell black from white at most). So instead of squinting to see reds and pinks, try to identify things by their shapes instead.
Protect your eyes. This cannot be emphasized enough. How can you have better night vision if you do not have night vision to speak of in the first place? There may be some congenital conditions that lead to inborn night blindness, but if you’ve got healthy eyes, what’s to stop you from keeping them healthy? Keep in mind that whatever hurts the eyes most probably is a bad thing—like looking directly into bright light or the glare of the morning sun. Puffing nicotine may cause damage to your night vision as well.
Practice makes permanent. If you’re really serious about having better night vision, then like any normal skill, you need to invest on it. Turn off the lights once in a while and try to view as much of your room in the dark. Doing this regularly can improve your night vision substantially.