Myths about vision and eye health might seem harmless at first. But they can be harmful if they’re mistaken for professional medical advice or conflated with scientific facts. Remember: before undergoing any vision treatment or making any significant lifestyle changes related to your eye health, you should always consult your local optician.
What are the common misconceptions about eye health you should ignore? Downtown Eyes, your local eye specialist, debunks some of the most common myths in this guide.
Eating Lots of Carrots Will Help Improve Your Vision
Carrots are rich in Vitamin A, an essential micronutrient that helps maintain vision health. However, it’s never a good idea to focus on just a single vegetable or nutrient. Nutritionists recommend incorporating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet. Broccoli, cantaloupe, and squash are also good sources of Vitamin A, as are dairy products, liver, fish, and fortified cereals. And in addition to Vitamin A, these foods contain other essential micronutrients carrots might not have.
Remember: your body only needs a certain amount of vitamin A. The recommended daily amount for adult men is 900 micrograms (mcg) and 700 mcg for adult women. Too much Vitamin A, or any nutrient for that matter, is harmful to your health. If you’re getting too much preformed Vitamin A (a form of Vitamin A found in meat products), you may experience symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and headaches. As such, you should consult your optician before taking any Vitamin A supplements.
Wearing Eyeglasses or Contacts Will Make You Dependent on Them
Wearing eyeglasses or contacts won’t make you dependent on them. If you need them to see clearly, it’s likely because you have refractive errors or vision conditions. Not wearing your eyeglasses and contacts will only increase the strain on your eyes.
You Can Improve Your Vision Through Eye Exercises
Some patients who would prefer not to wear eyeglasses would consider doing eye exercises or vision therapy, which were originally intended for children having difficulty learning to read or write. However, there are no scientific studies supporting the effectiveness of vision therapy. As such, vision therapy or eye exercise apps are unlikely to produce any results.
There is, however, one exception: vision therapy can be used to treat convergence insufficiency, a condition where the eyes can’t move at the same time. This condition increases eye strain and may even cause blurred vision, making it hard for the patient to read.
Reading in Dim Light or Sitting Too Near to the TV Can Damage Your Vision
Reading in dim light or sitting too near to the television can cause eye strain, but it won’t cause myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), two conditions that have strong genetic links. The same goes for using the computer for too long.
Digital Eye Strain and Too Much Screen Time
What many don’t know is that a simple activity like watching a video or reading from a computer screen takes a lot of effort from your eye muscles, especially if you’re not wearing eyeglasses or contacts. Your eye muscles need to be given time to relax; otherwise, you might suffer from a group of conditions called computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain.
Symptoms of digital eye strain include headaches, blurry vision, and dry eyes (blinking spreads tears over your eyes and keep them moist, but if people blink less often when they’re using a digital device). How do you reduce digital eye strain?
- Observe the 20-20-20 rule – Every 20 minutes, you should look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. You can set timers to remind you to take quick breaks every 20 minutes.
- Don’t sit too close to the computer screen – As mentioned earlier, sitting too close to the screen won’t damage your vision, but it can increase eye strain. Ideally, your computer screen should be 20 to 28 inches away from your face.
Important note: if your kid has the habit of sitting too close to the TV, they might be nearsighted and need to undergo an eye examination. Visual skills are vital to early childhood essential, so it’s important that refractive errors are corrected early on.
Wearing the Wrong Eyeglasses Will Hurt Your Eyes
Incorrect lens prescriptions are unlikely to cause long-term damage to your eyes, but they will increase eye strain, which can, in turn, give you headaches or temporarily blur your vision. In general, your eyeglass prescription increase as you age, which is why routine eye examinations are highly recommended.
How often should you get your eyes checked? It depends on your age. If you have kids aged six months to 20 years old, we recommend taking them to an optician for an eye examination every two years. And if they need eyeglasses, they’ll need to undergo an eye exam every six months or so to make sure their prescription hasn’t changed. Patients aged 20 to 39 years old should undergo a comprehensive eye exam every two to three years, those aged 40 to 54—the age group wherein effects of age-related vision conditions become noticeable—every one to three years, patients aged 55 to 64 every one to two years, and those aged 65 and above every six to twelve months.
People Who Are Color Blind Can Only See Black and White
Contrary to what many think, people with color blindness don’t necessarily see everything in black and white. There is a severe form of cold blindness that causes people to see everything in shades of gray, but this is very rare. More common forms of color blindness leave people unable to distinguish between specific shades, such as greens and reds.
Only Boys Can Be Color Blind
Boys are at a higher risk of inheriting color blindness—it’s estimated one in ten males suffer from a form of color vision deficiency—but women can also inherit or develop color blindness.
The Importance of Knowing Your Family History
Color blindness can develop as a result of certain diseases, trauma, or drugs damaging the retina or optic nerve. However, they also have strong genetic links, which is why it’s important for patients to know their family history.
What are the other eye conditions with strong genetic links? Myopia and hyperopia are two of the most common eye conditions with strong genetic links. There’s a one in three chance that your child will develop myopia if both parents are nearsighted, a one in five chance if only one is nearsighted, and a one in 40 chance if none of your parents have the condition.
Keep in mind that while genetic factors are a strong risk factor, there are several non-genetic risk factors, such as your cholesterol levels and diet, that you can control to lower your risk for developing serious conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Combined with a routine eye exam and regular visits to your options, you can lower your risk for developing certain diseases.
What are the ways you can lower your risk for certain diseases?
- Exercise more – Daily exercise can have a positive effect on your overall health.
- Quit smoking – Smoking increases your risk for several diseases, which is why it’s best to kick the habit. If you’re having trouble quitting, you can join a support group.
- Eat a balanced diet – Incorporate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet. It’s always a good idea to add more dark, leafy vegetables; they’re rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect your eyes from oxidative stress. Some of the dark, leafy vegetables you can try adding are spinach (a great addition to smoothies), kale ( with a bit of salt and olive oil, you can make kale chips), watercress (a tasty alternative to basil in pesto), and arugula leaves (they’re a great pizza topping).
For more tips on maintaining your vision health, consult your optician.
Downtown Eyes offers a wide range of professional eye care services, including eye exam services.