There are many various myths surrounding eyesight and vision from the slightly bizarre to the downright ridiculous. In order to know how to really take care of your eyes and to get the best from your glasses if you need them, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Knowing the truth about how eyesight works is the first step in protecting your eyes for your lifetime.
Myth: There is no need to have your vision checked before you turn 40
Fact: There many reasons why your vision can give you problems and these reasons can occur at any age. Regular eye examinations are important especially if there is a family history of eye problems. As we age however, the risk of developing eye diseases increases, but it’s worth noting, many treatable eye diseases; glaucoma is one of them, can show up before you turn 40. Always attend your optometrist if you have any concerns about your vision or eye health, or if there is a family history. Good eye care habits start young, so encourage your child to go for an eye examination regularly at your local Optometrist when they are at school.
Myth: Wearing glasses makes your eyesight worse!
Fact: If you have problems with your vision and wearing glasses corrects these problems, then you need to wear glasses! It’s a simple as that. Certain types of vision problems naturally get worse over time, either as you grow up through childhood into adulthood, for example shortsightedness (myopia), or as you get older when you are over 40 (hyperopia and Presbyopia). In fact, some studies have shown that not wearing your glasses causes this deterioration in vision to happen faster in individuals who don’t wear their glasses. Life is too short to struggle without glasses and in fact not wearing your glasses when you need them can potentially be very dangerous; you could fall or have an accident. This is particularly important when you drive; it’s not just your life at stake, its other road users too.
Myth: Wearing poorly fitting glasses damages your eyes.
Fact: The right prescription in your glasses is required for good vision. Poor fitting frames do not damage your eyes, but make wearing your glasses more uncomfortable and the frames more likely to break. Plus you will be less likely to wear them because they are uncomfortable. Some prescriptions require good fitting frames to ensure your prescription works properly for your eyes, for example; varifocals or high prescriptions
Myth: Poorly fitting contacts do not harm your eyes.
Fact: Poorly fitting contact lenses can damage your cornea. If you use contact lenses, have them checked regularly. In Ireland a contact lens prescription is only valid for one year. All contact lenses sold in Ireland, require a prescription which is under 12 months old. Always buy the same brand and prescription which your optometrist has recommended and DO not attempt to switch brands or try a different power or fitting. This could cause serious problems for your eyes.
Myth: Eating carrots will improve your vision.
Fact: Carrots are high in Vitamin A, which is important for a balanced diet. Eating carrots or other foods high in Vitamin A will not improve your vision. Taking large amounts of Vitamin A can be very harmful. People that do not eat a balanced diet can develop vision problems along with other problems as they age. The carrot myth came from the Second World War, where the RAF developed new technology which increased the accuracy of its night time bombing raids over Germany. To prevent the knowledge of this technology getting into the hands of the enemy, the RAF explained that their pilots had excellent night vision because they ate lots of carrots!
Myth: Sitting close to the television will harm your eyes.
Fact: There is no evidence that sitting close to the television will damage your eyes. If this were true, office workers that sit 8 hours a day 17 inches from their computer screens, would all be blind. Sit wherever you are most comfortable when watching TV. When watching TV, the most important thing is to wear you distance glasses if you need them, to help recuce the risk of headaches and eye strain
Myth: Reading in dim light will damage your vision.
Fact: Reading in dim light can make your eyes feel tired. It is not harmful and cannot damage your vision. Children can read in dim light very well and this does not harm their eyes. The ability to read in dim light decreases naturally as we age.
Myth: Eye exercises will improve your vision.
Fact: Eye exercises will not improve your vision. This myth has made many people wealthy. Rolling your eyes around has no effect on your vision. However, sometimes your optometrist will give you special eye exercises, called Orthoptic exercises to help strengthen your ability to focus where glasses are not required and the eye muscles need to be strengthened.
Myth: It is not harmful to look at the sun if you squint or use dark glasses.
Fact: The sun’s ultra-violet light will still get to your eyes, damaging the cornea, lens and retina. Never look directly at a solar eclipse. The direct light from the sun can blind a person in less then a minute. The UV light from the sun has been proved to speed up aging in the eye and lead to serious eye problems when we get older. Always wear high quality sunglasses when out in the sunshine.
Myth: You can cure a black eye by putting a raw steak on it.
Fact: Putting a steak on your eye will do nothing except expose your eye to any organisms living on the raw meat. Get immediate medical attention, a black can be a sign of serious eye injury.
Myth: You can wear your eyes out by using them too much.
Fact: You cannot wear your eyes out by using them. Cutting down on reading or close work, will not help or harm your eyesight. It just makes life really boring! Use your eyes as much as you want but just make sure you give them any help they need to reduce eye strain or headaches.
Myth: Too much sex can make you go blind.
Fact: Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease and one of the side effects is that it can lead to blindness. Thus in past times, people who were promiscuous were at a high risk of contracting Syphilis and going blind, and so the myth evolved that too much sex makes you blind!
Excerpt taken and revised from Optometrists.ie