Our eyes are a very important part, not only of our physical bodies, but of our senses too. Many people worry about losing their sight if something were to go horribly wrong with their eyes. Because of this natural fear there are many rumours and myths about eye care that got started and was regarded as absolute fact.
Here are a few of them which you may, or may not, recognise:
Reading in low light is bad for you – Myth
The only thing that reading in a dimly lit environment can do is cause eye fatigue. This is because your eyes must strain and work harder to make out the words on a page and because of that they will tire more quickly. But it won’t permanently damage your vision when you read in bad light. If you find that your eyes get tired or sore though, then simply stop reading and give your eyes time to rest and recover.
Working at a computer for long periods of time will damage your eyes – Myth
Just as with the low light reading point above, working at a computer for long periods of time will simply cause eye fatigue. This is in part because we tend to blink less when staring at a computer screen – which causes our eyes to dry out, and because we tend to focus very hard on the screen – which causes fatigue. The old Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) computer monitors were also very bright and had a slower refresh rate – meaning the picture on the screen was constantly cycling through changes. Ever watched a video recording of those old CRT monitors? You would probably have seen that the picture on the monitor seemed to be flickering and making lines that moved up and down the screen – that was the refresh rate. This refresh rate usually happened too fast for us to really notice, but it did have a tiring effect on our eyes. The new LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitors however do not have this refresh-flicker problem and is therefore much healthier for our eyes. But you still need to watch how you work and make sure you blink enough and also rest your eyes throughout the day by looking away from the computer and focussing on distant objects for a few minutes.
Sitting too close to the Television is bad for your eyes – Myth
Ah, how many times have you heard this one? When we were kids this was one of the most popular myths about eye care and we were constantly admonished and told to sit at a minimum “safe” distance. While it is true that the televisions that date back to the 60s did give off a certain amount of radiation, this was in such small doses that many authorities agree that it didn’t qualify as harmful. However, as with computer screen evolution, the new LCD, Plasma, and OLED screen televisions give off no radiation whatsoever, so they are completely safe. Also, as an interesting little titbit, children have a much shorter focus distance than adults, so sitting closer to the television actually helps them to see better and won’t harm their eyes.
You will become dependent on glasses – Myth
The prescription of glasses by an eye care specialist is usually done to assist an individual with an eye or vision problem. This means that there is an existing problem. The glasses will not however worsen the problem, but are meant to help manage it, and in some cases even remedy it. Should a person use their glasses incorrectly, or not at all, it is possible that their problem could get worse. For example, if you are prescribed glasses for reading it means that you probably have a problem focussing on close objects. Should you however use these glasses all the time, even for looking at things that are far away, then that may cause fatigue or weakness in your eyes. It also important, if you wear contact lenses, to handle and maintain them properly and take them out when you go to sleep at night. Incorrect or neglect in cleaning contact lenses can lead to serious problems and even critical eye infections.
Nothing can be done to prevent loss of vision – Myth
This is perhaps one of the most dangerous myths about eye care! Make the effort and spend the money to go for an eye exam every year. Many eye problems can be diagnosed and successfully treated if only they are detected early on. Also keep in mind that with the constantly evolving medical and surgical procedures, there are many new and effective options available nowadays to cure or treat conditions that may previously have been considered untreatable.
People who already have bad eyesight shouldn’t do detailed work – Myth
This is probably one of the most uninformed and ignorant myths about eye care. Needing to focus on fine or detailed objects will not cause further damage to already weak eye sight. It is the same as the reading or television myths above; it will simply cause fatigue, but it cannot cause damage. This myth probably stems from the fact that people with poor vision may not be as good at doing fine or detailed work, because they might overlook some things, but it will not cause their eyes to “wear out” faster.
Eat carrots to help you see better – Myth
Ah yes, I think this is another myth or “old wives’ tale” that many of us will be intimately familiar with. While it is true that carrots contain Vitamin A – which helps protect the surface of the eye – the trace amounts of vitamin found in carrots may not necessarily be enough to address or even remedy any eye problems. However, a balanced diet of enough fresh fruit and veggies will certainly contain enough Vitamin A to supply your body’s daily needs.
So as you can see (no pun intended), many myths and stories related to eye care stemmed from a lack of education or understanding about the eyes, vision, and how everything works. With advances in the fields of optometry and ophthalmology however many new procedures are being developed and refined that are able treat previously serious conditions. The overall outlook is therefore much better and clearer than it might have been 50 years ago.
But the most important thing to remember and take away from this article is that you can prevent a lot of problems simply by going for an eye exam at least once a year. So make it a part of your healthy New Year’s resolutions for 2016 and every year!