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The Second World War affected most of the developed world and, in terms of politics and such, it’s effects will stand for the rest of our history. But, did you know that WWII has actually had changed the way that we talk about and even treat our eyes today? Well we here are a couple of little history lesson…

History Lesson #1:

We’ve all heard that carrots are good for our eyes. We’ve written about it and made a video on the topic to set the record straight. Yes, carrots are good for our retinal health because they are high in vitamin A. However, they cannot and do not improve our vision. But, where did one of the most widespread myths about our eyes even begin? Well, WWII of course…

During the war, in particular during German bombings of London, the British military successfully incorporated the use of radar to help counteract the Luftwaffe (German air force). The Brits were suddenly able to shoot down German bombers before they were able to reach their targets, which of course raised many eyebrows. When the newspapers began enquiring as to this new found success, the government decided, rather than give away their secret weapon, they would spin a little fiction and spread some propaganda.

The British military told everyone that their gunners were able to spot German planes in the night sky with deadly accuracy because they had been eating a lot of carrots! The word spread like wildfire and before you know it, everyone and their mother was eating carrots for dinner. There is even evidence that the Germans began encouraging their troops to eat more!

History Lesson #2:

During the same period, many RAF (Royal Air Force) pilots were visiting hospitals to see the ophthalmologist because they would get small shards of plastic from the cockpit canopies in their eyes during combat. One ophthalmologist at the time, Dr. Harold Ridley, realized that the plastic from the canopy was not causing any type of rejection or reaction in the eye – it was inert. This was a revolutionary discovery in the field as the eyes are very sensitive to any foreign materials penetrating the surface or residing within the eyeball. This discovery lead to the very first implantable lens to replace cataracts, a procedure that is still used to this day!


Written by Dr. Harbir Sian

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