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Eye Health - Myths and Facts


Growing up, one of the first organs that we learn to take care of are our eyes. Almost all parents have shared their wisdom on how important our eyes are to us and why we must eat our carrots to protect them. Some were not allowed to watch television if we sat too close, while few were not permitted to look at the Sun.

Overall, we have heard numerous stories about our eye health and almost all cultures have different versions of the same underlying theme. Modern science backs a few of them today while dismantling the others as total myths.

To help you get a clearer picture, here is a list of myths and facts surrounding eye health. It is time that you get your stories and habits right because our eyes are indeed vital and powerful sensory organs.

Fact: Looking directly at the sun will harm your eyes

The Sun sends ultraviolet or UV rays down to our planet. And directly looking at the Sun exposes our eyes to the harmful effects of these UV rays. Even a short duration of UV exposure can damage the eye’s surface tissues along with the cornea and retina. Sunburnt eyes are a common phenomenon, while too much exposure can lead to cataracts, eye cancer, and abnormal growths on the eye like Pterygium or the Surfer’s eye.

Regular eye protection like standard sunglasses is not enough to keep the UV rays away from your eye. You require sunglasses with UV-ray filters to limit exposure or enjoy that summertime beach vacation.

sun will harm your eyes

Myth + Fact: We must eat a whole lot of carrots to improve our eye health

Yes, carrots are good for our eyes, but the obsession over them is unnecessary. Scientifically, the Vitamin A that we get from carrots helps maintain our eye health and vision. Our eyes, specifically, require only a proportion of the net Vitamin A that we must consume as part of a balanced diet. If we eat enough leafy vegetables, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, and fish, we might take it easy with the carrots to help our eyes.

However, too much screen time can tire our eyes. Hence, our eyes tend to itch or water after spending a lot of time in front of the television. To ensure better eye health, we must take frequent breaks and watch it in proper lighting.

carrots to improve our eye health

Myth: Sitting too close to the television will damage our eyes

Who has not heard this while growing up? It might seem that the blue light from the gadget might wreak havoc on our retina, but our eyes can conveniently adjust to a wide range of light intensities. Children tend to sit close to televisions because they have excellent near-vision focusing abilities. As adults, we can also sit quite close to the screens without causing much damage to the eye.

However, too much screen time can tire our eyes. Hence, our eyes tend to itch or water after spending a lot of time in front of the television. To ensure better eye health, we must take frequent breaks and watch it in proper lighting.

Myth: Using eyeglasses reduce the natural prowess of our eyes

We also hear, on these lines, that we become dependent on our eyeglasses and can never live a regular life without them. But we require spectacles to correct different eye conditions like farsightedness, nearsightedness, presbyopia, or astigmatism. As long as these conditions persist, we need spectacles. In some cases, farsightedness and nearsightedness do improve over time, and once the eye condition stops affecting our vision, we can take off the glasses.

In fact, without eyeglasses, we experience an unwanted strain on the eyes. Thus, spectacles allow the light entering our eyes to rightly focus on the retina and give a better picture quality. We do not become dependent on our eyeglasses, and we retain the natural capacity of our eyes.

Fact: We can read in dimly lit spaces

Yes, we do not need glaring white light every time we sit on the desk to read our favourite book or work report. Human eyes can detect as low as 20 lumens per square meter, and we can read easily as long as 25 lumens per square meter illuminate the book surface or the report. Reading in dimly lit rooms does not harm our eyes. Neither does it accelerate old age vision loss or lead us to wear eyeglasses.

If your near-vision gets compromised due to some reason, you might need reading spectacles/eyeglasses to see clearly or brighter light to read a fine print. Otherwise, you may stay away from investing in high-lumen lights because too much light is known to cause stress in some people.

dimly lit spaces

Myth: Crossing our eyes too often makes them stuck in that position

Our eye muscles control our eye movement. Several muscles contract and relax, closely controlled by the associated neurons, to move our gaze up, down, left, and right. Looking in a specific direction multiple times does not cause the eye muscles to solidify or the nerves to damage themselves. As long as our muscles and nerves are working fine, one cannot become cross-eyed just by looking at their nose tip.

Strabismus or cross-eye syndrome is a disease caused by ocular muscle dysfunction or nerve damage due to some event. And it is manageable with the help of special eyeglasses for vision correction. Rarely does a person develop strabismus due to some bad habit, and the worries around it are simple myths.

Myth + Fact: Some learning disabilities in children cause eye problems

Learning disabilities originate in the brain rather than the eye. However, untreated eye diseases in children can lead to developmental discrepancies that can ultimately hinder learning. A child born with nearsightedness or farsightedness may not be able to tell that their vision is compromised. If left undetected, reading comprehension can take a hit because the child fails to read a book or anything from the blackboard.

This is how learning disabilities came to be associated with eye problems. But the learning problem vanishes as soon as the child wears the correct pair of eye correction glasses that restore their normal vision. If the learning problems continue, then the child might need a psychological evaluation.

Myth: Too much computer or phone time can damage your eyes

The same principle of too much television time applies here as well. Computer or phone screens are not the actual culprits of the irritation that we feel after prolonged usage. The strain they put on our eyes due to the long hours of staring causes dry eyes or digital fatigue. Optometrists recommend that we rest our eyes after 20 minutes of screentime by looking elsewhere. The cycle will help to keep the associated irritation at bay.

Also, our eye discomforts due to screens are associated with a lack of sleep. Most of us carry our gadgets to bed and stare into them for long hours. The burning sensation we feel in our eyes the next day is simply tiredness because we did not get enough sleep.

phone time can damage your eyes

Myth: All of us gradually lose our vision as we age

The assumption might seem convincing given that almost all our organs age and lose their vigor, but the eye tends to hold on to its functionality if one’s overall health is in top shape. With age, most of us become prone to developing cataracts or presbyopia. 

And we can get these conditions treated with simple surgery or by using the right pair of reading glasses. Beyond these, our vision should remain fine till we do not suffer from other ailing diseases (like diabetes and hypertension) that can affect the eye. 

A few eye-related diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration can become prominent with age. The underlying reason is generally genetic. We can prevent the onset of such eye conditions with early detection and retain our clear vision for a prolonged span.

Fact: Wearing the wrong eyeglasses can hurt our eyes

Technically, most experts say wearing the wrong glasses cannot damage our eyes, but that does not mean we do not experience the side effects. 

Inaccurate glasses are the same as not wearing glasses. The lens does not focus the light on our retinas, and we have to strain our eyes to see what is in front. We can develop a headache with watery and red eyes if we continue to use the wrong spectacles.

Hence, we must consult experienced optometrists to get the eye test done. We must wear correct spectacles as prescribed to safeguard our eyes, maintain overall well being and minimize headaches or redness.

So, trust the facts and break out of the myths. Consult a doctor and get your spectacles made from a trusted brand. Accuracy and lens quality matter when it comes to our eye health and hence should not be compromised.

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