Fact or Fiction? The Truth Behind 7 Eye Myths
We live in a world driven by information. Unfortunately, not all of the information that drives the world is completely true.
Rumours fly, and myths thrive, around any subject you can think of – vision and eye care are no exception.
Chances are, you've heard that staring at a computer screen for prolonged periods can damage your eyes. Or maybe your parents told you to sit further from the TV to avoid ruining your vision.
But are these myths true? What information can you trust? Read on to find out.
1. Staring at a Computer Screen Damages Your Eyes
Fact, likely. There is growing evidence that exposure to certain wavelengths of blue light (those put off by many digital devices, LED, CFL light bulbs) can cause retinal damage over time. Staring at a screen can also contribute to dry eyes.
The Truth: There are newer coatings that you can get on your eyeglasses to block these harmful blue rays, helping protect you from long-term damage. This is especially important for the large number of people who use a computer most of the work day.
Dryness is also exacerbated by computer use. You tend to blink less when you look at computer screens or read books. Your eyes hydrate themselves through blinking. This means that the less often you blink, the less hydrated your eyes are. The less hydrated your eyes, the more likely you are to develop dry eye, which can damage your eyes and be uncomfortable.
The Solution: Make an effort to look away from your computer screen at least once every 20 minutes. When you do, focus on objects that are far from you to induce blinking. Also be sure to sit 18-24 inches away from your computer screen. Ask your optometrist or optician about newer lens coatings to help block harmful blue light.
2. Looking Directly at the Sun Causes Permanent Eye Damage
Fact. Not only does staring straight at the sun distort your vision for a few minutes, it can also cause irreversible damage. UV rays have a cumulative effect on your eyes, which means the more you look at the sun, the weaker your eyes become.
Optometrists have linked UV exposure to macular degeneration, solar retinitis, and other eye disorders.
The Solution: Protect your eyes from the sun. Wear sunglasses year-round-not just during the summer when UV rays are most intense. Choose a pair of sunglasses with UV-blocking capabilities; they are more expensive but will protect your retina and decrease your risk of cataracts.
3. Carrots Are Essential to Good Vision
Fact...almost. Carrots contain vitamin A, which plays a key role in strengthening your eyes.
The Truth: A lot of fruits and vegetables contain vitamin A, as well. Furthermore, your eyes only require a small amount of vitamin A to function properly. Loading up on carrots won't actually have that much of an effect on your eyesight, and having too many can actually temporarily cause your skin to turn yellow/orange!
The Solution: Eat a well-balanced diet. A healthy diet, with or without carrots, will deliver the necessary nutrients to your eyes.
4. Reading in Dim Light Harms Your Vision
Fiction. You might develop a headache if you read in dim light, but you won't experience any permanent damage.
The Truth: People read, sewed, and talked by the light of the moon and oil lamps for centuries. If they could do it, you can too. However, be aware that your eyes will probably become fatigued quicker in dim light.
The Solution: If you want to avoid eye fatigue and headaches, turn on a few more lights. This will allow your eyes to feel fresher longer, and will also prevent dry eye.
5. Sitting Too Close to the TV is Bad for Your Eyes
Fiction. Did your mom ever scold you for sitting too close to the TV as a kid? If so, she might have told you sitting too close would ruin your eyes. In reality, there is no evidence linking this habit to poor eyesight.
The Truth: Much like reading in dim light can cause eye fatigue, sitting close to the TV can cause eyestrain and headaches.
Additionally, children's eyes tolerate focusing on closer distances better than adults' eyes. Children should grow out of this habit as they age.
The Solution: Sitting close to the TV might be a sign that you or your child can't see from farther away. Talk to your optometrist if you suspect this might be the case.
6. Wearing Glasses Causes Your Eyes to Become Dependent
Fiction. As you wear your glasses and become accustomed to them, you might worry that they'll cause your vision to deteriorate further.
The Truth: Eyeglasses correct blurry vision. They don't affect your eyes' physiology and don't weaken your vision.
Because you'll want to see clearly more than unclearly, you may find yourself wanting to wear your glasses more often, although this isn't a sign of dependence.
The Solution: Keep in mind that your eyes change and age just like the rest of your body. The eyes can change over time, causing you to need stronger prescriptions.
7. You Only Need to See an Optometrist If You Have Poor Vision
Fiction. Many people falsely assume that if they have 20/20 vision, they don't need to see an optometrist.
The Truth: Neglect is one of the easiest ways to damage your eyes. Even if you have 20/20 vision, you might experience light sensitivity or irritation in certain settings. Things like redness can actually be symptoms of more serious eye complications. There are some serious eye diseases, such as glaucoma, which have no symptoms at the early stage.
The Solution: Visit an optometrist at least once a year, regardless of how good your vision is. You should also notify your optometrist any time you experience vision changes, see floaters, or sustain an eye injury.