The Truth Behind Some Of The Most Popular Eye Care Myths

boy watching video using laptop

Many people think that being too close to the television will impair their eyesight or that carrots will make one’s vision sharper. Meanwhile, others believe if they cross their eyes for too long, it might stay that way forever. These are popular beliefs that have been passed on for decades, but is there any truth in them? In this article, experts from Arizona Retinal Specialists separate fact from fiction about eye care.

Myth: Sitting too close to the television will hurt your eyes.

This myth is rooted in the early days of television. From the time of their commercialization, people were worried about the potential harms of the device: the harms of watching for many hours at a time or of placing their face close to the screen. In the history of television, the gravest danger from the proximity of human bodies to a screen came in the 1950s and 60s. Routine testing back then revealed that specific large-screen models of GE color sets were radioactive.

In recent times, however, radiation is certainly not a problem with modern televisions. Today’s cathode-ray tube sets are proven to pose virtually no risk to consumers. They still emit x-ray, but the levels are too low to cause any harm. While watching too much TV might have an adverse effect on some parts of your life, your eyesight is surely not among them.

Fact: Looking at digital screens – smartphones, computers, and tablets – for long periods pose vision problems.

The American Optometric Association says spending too much time on digital screens can cause Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as Digital Eye Strain. Common symptoms include blurry vision, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and dry eyes.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends setting up your computer monitor about 20 to 40 inches from your eyes. However, you should also think about how you use your other devices. Avoid slouching in an easy chair or curling up on the couch with your handheld device too close to your eyes. Do not forget to give your eyes a break from your electronic screen every couple of minutes.

Fact: Eating a balanced diet of foods rich in vitamin A will promote healthy eyesight.

You’ve likely heard that eating carrots help improve our eyesight and as it turns out, this popular belief is right… for the most part. Vitamin A and vision make potent allies. The little orange vegetable contains vitamin A and beta-carotene, which promote sharper vision and help fight cataracts and macular degeneration. These nutrients fortify the cornea and help people to see better in low-light conditions.

But while carrots offer essential vitamins for your eyes, eating it with every meal can turn your skin slightly orange. Another thing to keep in mind is that your body will only get rid of the excess vitamins. It’s important to keep a balanced diet of not just carrots, but other vegetables to ensure the good health of your eyes for the years to come.

Myth: Reading glasses can substitute for prescription glasses.

Reading glasses are readily available in pharmacies and department stores. Since it is easy to buy a pair of graded glasses, many people do not want to bother to have their eyes checked and get something that is tailored to their needs.  The truth is, reading glasses only help with the deterioration of near vision.

If you only need something to read a small type up close like on a restaurant menu or a medicine label, then reading glasses may work just fine. However, specialists do not recommend using these for a long time as they do not correct for astigmatism. In addition, their optical centers may not be the perfect distance from your pupils or your eyes may not need identical strength in lenses.

Fact: Certain eye drops can irritate your eyes if used too often.

Artificial tears or wetting drops that are just a saline solution normally do not cause irritation even when used regularly. Still, it’s better to ask your ophthalmologist about the possibility of dry eye syndrome if you often need it.

Prescription eye drops, on the other hand, are a different story. These should only be used as per the doctor’s instruction. Drops that eliminate redness in the eye are essentially decongestants that constrict swollen blood vessels in the eye. Using them more often than prescribed may cause irritation.

Myth: In an emergency, it’s okay to moisturize your contact lens in your mouth before reinserting it in your eye.

Never do this even during emergencies! People away from home without a saline solution or lens case sometimes attempt to lubricate their lens with saliva. But between the bacteria on your hands and in your saliva, this is never a recommended practice. Make it a habit to carry a saline solution, case, and your glasses with you. Be sure to leave some in your handbag, desk drawer, and car.

Fact: Being under bright sunlight for long periods of time can give you cataracts.

Prolonged exposure under the sun may cause cataracts, growths and sometimes, certain forms of cancer. The culprit is the ultraviolet rays that come directly from the sun and reflects off surfaces. The American Ophthalmology suggests using sunglasses that block both UV-A and UV-B to protect the eyes. Also, consider wearing hats when going outdoors.

Myth: Only males can be color-blind.

Colorblindness affects both sexes, only that it is more common in males. This is because of the gene that causes the most prevalent, inherited type of the condition (red-green colorblindness) occurs on the X chromosome. Females have double the chances of having a functional gene because they have two X chromosomes, while males only have one. The rate of colorblindness for females is only 0.5 percent, whereas it’s eight percent for males.

Just as in many aspects of human health, there are many myths and factoids about the eyes. While a number have some truth in them, it still pays to do your research and trust a professional. When it comes to your eye health, don’t settle with hearsays. Visit an eye doctor for your questions and concerns.