It’s important to separate fact from fiction, especially when the topic is eyesight. And old wives’ tales abound about the eyes. Many of these have no basis in fact and, for that matter, can be dangerous if you followed the advice put forth.
But knowing how to take good care of your eyes is the first step to protecting your sight for a lifetime. So here’s the lowdown on some eyesight myths:
Myth #1: “Sitting too close to the TV will damage your vision.”
There is no evidence that sitting close to the television will damage your eyes. So sit wherever you are most comfortable. Eyes may become tired from sitting too close for long periods, if the light in the room is too dim, or if the picture screen is out of focus.
Myth #2: “Reading in the dark will weaken your eyesight”
As with sitting too close to the television, reading in dim light can cause eye fatigue, but it is not harmful and cannot damage your vision.
Myth #3: “Some eye exercises can improve your vision.”
Being alive and looking around at your world is all that is necessary to keep your muscles “toned.” Any extra effort is a waste of time and has no benefit. This myth has made many people wealthy, but rolling your eyes around has no effect on your vision.
Myth #4: “You can wear your eyes out by using them too much.”
Eyes are not like light bulbs. So you cannot wear your eyes out by using them. In fact they can last your entire lifetime if they are healthy. Cutting down on reading or close work, will not help or harm your eyesight.
Myth #5: “Vision improves in older people as they gain second sight.”
“Second sight” refers to the ability of a person to see better, usually up-close, as they age. The reason for this “improved” vision is that the lens power changes due to increasing cataract. So actually second sight is due to the cataract having advanced.
Myth #6: “Too much sex, especially masturbation, can make you go blind.”
No, there is no way that this ridiculous myth can be true. Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, if left untreated can lead to blindness, dementia and death. This is where this myth came from.
Myth #7: “Wearing poorly fit glasses damages your eyes.”
In fact what is required for good vision is the right eyeglass prescription. Poor fitting glasses do not damage your eyes.
Myth #8: “Blind people have a sixth sense or extra ordinary talents.”
Most People with (20/20) vision do not pay much attention to their other senses. Blind people have worked hard to develop their other senses to compensate for their vision loss. There is no sixth sense. Just hard work and practice.
Myth #9: “There is no need to have your vision checked before you turn 40.”
Everyone should follow a proper eye health program that includes a regular eye exam, whether or not they’re having any noticeable signs of problems. There are treatable eye diseases; glaucoma is one of them, which can show up before you turn 40.
Myth #10: “Doctors can transplant eyes.”
It is not possible to transplant a whole eye. The eye is connected to the brain by a small nerve called the optic nerve. If this nerve is cut it cannot be reconnected, making it impossible to remove the eye and replace it with another one. When doctors figure out how to transplant the brain, they will be able to transplant the eye.
Myth #11: “Scientists have created a Bionic Eye.”
Researchers have been working on a microchip to replace damaged retina cells in a person’s central vision. Other scientists have been trying to figure out a way to connect a camera directly to the brain. The eye and the brain do not work the same way a camera and computer do. Even after someone figures out how to make a bionic eye, they still have to figure out how to connect it to the neural circuitry of the brain. What they have created so far is a crude form of vision consisting of several dots of light.
Myth #12: “It is not harmful to look at the sun if you squint or use dark glasses.”
The sun’s ultra-violet light will still get to your eyes, damaging the cornea, lens and retina. So looking at the sun may not only cause headache and distort your vision temporarily, but it can also cause permanent eye damage. Never look directly at a solar eclipse. The direct light from the sun can blind a person in less than a minute.
Myth #13: “There is nothing you can do to prevent vision loss”
Regular eye exams and proper safety eyewear can save your sight. Also at the very first signs of vision loss, such as blurred vision or flashes of light, you should see your doctor. If detected early enough, depending on the cause, there are treatments that can correct, stop, or slow down the loss of vision.
Myth #14: “Although eyeglasses makes you see better, they make vision get worse over time.”
Wearing eyeglasses will never make your eyes worse. Before you start wearing glasses, you are accustomed to seeing a blurry world around you. Since this is all you have ever seen, you accept it as normal. When your vision is corrected with eyeglasses you start seeing a clear world. Now when you remove your eyeglasses after wearing them for several months, you are presented with the same blurry world as before. You feel you were able to get around without wearing glasses before but now when you remove glasses you see all blurry and cannot get around. In reality it’s your perception that has changed.
Myth #15: “Eating carrots will improve your vision.”
While it is true that carrots are high in Vitamin A, which is an essential vitamin for sight, only a small amount is necessary for good vision. In fact, eating large amounts of Vitamin A or other vitamins can be very harmful.
Feel smarter? Just remember that you don’t want to be an April fool – or any kind of fool – when it comes to your health.