We have all heard about eye myths since growing up. Are they true? Or are they just old wives tales? Read on to find out!
- Carrots will improve eyesight.
Since young, we were told by our parents to finish the carrots on our plates as they would help us to see better. This old rumour started since World War 2, when the British boasted that their pilots were better able to see at night due to carrots. In actual fact, it was their secret radar system. Carrots contain Vitamin A and Lutein, nutrients that are beneficial to the eye. Eating carrots will provide you with the small amount of Vitamin A needed for good vision, but the belief that carrots help improve vision is a stretch.
- Reading in low light environment will affect the eyesight.
Contrary to popular belief, reading in poor illuminations do not affect eyesight. It may cause headaches or eye fatigue, but it is only a temporary discomfort. While it is more difficult to read in the dark, reading in low light conditions will not damage the eye in any way. Centuries ago when electricity was not available, people read and worked by candle lights that offered far less light than now.
- Wearing glasses, especially in your youth, is detrimental to your vision and will make it worse.
Spectacles are prescribed to correct blurry vision. Some people feel that wearing spectacles would cause an increase in their prescription or cause them to be more reliant on their glasses due to the wearer getting more used to sharp and crisp vision that was not available before. Refractive errors are actually due to the length of the eyeball being too long or short, causing light to fall elsewhere other than the retina. In fact, not wearing prescription glasses when needed may lead to even poorer vision than before.
- Vision loss/impairment with old age is not preventable (or rather inevitable).
With age, there are many types of changes that can occur in the eye. Common conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are a few of them. The vision loss caused by cataracts are inevitable and progresses with age, but they are reversible via a simple surgery. Unfortunately, for the other conditions mentioned, they can only be detected during eye checks or when the symptoms are experienced. In those cases, vision impairment would have occurred and is unfortunately irreversible. It is therefore important to have annual eye exams to detect any eye conditions. Earlier treatments allow a better visual outcome for most people.
- “Overusing” the eyes can wear them out.
Over using anything will wear things out, and the same goes for the eye. Nowadays, many people spend a large amount of time behind the computer and phone for work or leisure. Doing near work for long hours can cause dry eyes due to reduced blinking rates, redness and also headaches. In some cases, it might even lead to accommodative spasm, whereby the muscles remain in a constant state of contraction. This would lead to blurring of objects at a distance. Overusing our eyes for their intended purpose will not cause blindness, but it can lead to varying degrees of eye fatigue. It is hence advisable to take regular breaks while doing intensive near work.
- Lifestyle can/cannot affect your vision.
There are many lifestyle choices we make that can affect our vision. Having a diet that is high in sugar can lead to increased glucose levels, which would then cause fluctuating vision. Smoking, drinking and spending long hours under the computer can also lead to problems like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and dry eyes. It is important to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Wearing contact lenses at campfires or barbeques can cause them to melt in your eyes.
While enjoying a barbeque or a campfire, the usage of contact lenses is still reasonably safe if a safety distance is ensured. Contact lenses are sterilized in high temperatures of up to 121 degrees Celsius. The heat from BBQ and campfire should not melt the contact lens as the melting point of the contact lens is higher the boiling point of water. Also, at high heat levels, the human skin on the face would be affected by the heat way before the contact lens is affected.
- Sitting too close to screens/extensive use of screens will ruin the eyesight.
This myth started back in the 1960s when colour TV sets that were sold were found to emit amounts of radiation that were much higher than the safe limit. The TV sets were recalled, but the stigma still remains today. The act of reading and sitting close to computer screens and iPads do not ruin eyesight. They can, however, cause Asthenopia, known as fatigue or eye strain. Staring closely at a screen forces our ciliary muscle, which affects how well we focus, to remain contracted without rest. This tires the eyes out after prolonged hours of near work. Blinking rate is also reduced when we stare at the screen. Blinking is important as it keeps the front surface of our eyes moist and lubricated. If the surface is dried out, the user would experience blurry or foggy vision, which would get better after blinking. It is therefore important to take regular vision breaks to protect our eyes from eyestrain and dry eyes.