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As with any health issue, public discussion about eyesight often gives rise to myths that many of us grow up believing. Some of these start of as evidence-based facts that are passed on over the years, growing and becoming further away from the truth as time goes on. Some have their roots in moral lessons, parenting techniques or even jokes, which people have come to believe to be true, even though they have no grounding in reality. In all of these cases, the general public can gain an idea of what they think is true, when actually it is either half true or simply not true at all. Read on below to find out if you’ve fallen for these myths about eyesight and eye health, and what the truth really is.
- Carrots Help You to See in the Dark
Many of us were told as children that we had to eat our carrots if we wanted to be able to see in the dark. Given that a lot of children are scared of the dark, we took this to heart and many of us continued to believe it into adulthood. When you really think about it though, it’s obvious that this can’t be true. If a food really did improve your eyesight, we wouldn’t need to have reading glasses or contact lenses, we could simply eat our way to perfect vision! This myth does have some basis of fact though, as carrots contain vitamin A and beta-carotene, which is essential for good eye health. However, there is very little evidence to suggest that eating carrots can improve your vision, and many other vegetables also contain high levels of these nutrients. Unfortunately, you might need to find another way of getting your children to eat their carrots!
- Wearing Glasses Makes Your Eyesight Worse
This rather confusing idea is popular with certain adults, and goes hand in hand with the view that glasses and contact lenses are some sort of scam. The origins of this myth are unclear, as it’s certainly not something we tell children, but it seems to develop out of a kind of twisted logic about becoming dependent on glasses and therefore needing to use them more. A shocking amount of adults around the world believe this myth, with studies in Nigeria and Pakistan reporting that 64% and 69% respectively of those asked thought that wearing glasses would weaken their eyesight over time. In reality, there is no evidence to back up this idea, and there has been surprisingly little research done into this area. Some research has shown that not giving children the correct prescription of glasses causes their eyesight to worsen over time, suggesting that the opposite of this myth is actually correct.
- Looking at Screens Damages Your Eyes
Now that we live in a world where screens are an unavoidable part of everyday life, many people are worried about the effects screens might have on eyesight and eye health. Speculation around the effects of looking at screens all day has led many to believe that this can actually damage your eyes, when this is not exactly true. Although repeating this myth might be a good way to keep children from spending all their time on the computer, the truth is that looking at screens can only strain your eyes, not cause long-term damage. If you spend a long time looking at a screen, you might find that you experience sore, tired, itchy or dry eyes, or even blurred or double vision, but these will go away after you spend some time away from screens. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to take regular breaks from looking at screens, but remember that, if it does happen, it is only temporary and can easily be remedied by resting your eyes.
- You Can Look at the Sun with Sunglasses
Due to the high-quality sunglasses that are now available in so many high street shops, many people think that their eyes are completely safe from being damaged by the sun. However, even sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays do not make it safe to look directly at the sun, as some UV radiation can still get through the lenses and damage your eyes. When you look at the sun, this radiation causes sunburn on your eyeballs, as the cells of the cornea start to blister and crack. Although you might not notice this at first, if you continue looking at the sun, you may cause permanent damage to your retina, which can seriously affect your vision. Although some effects of looking at the sun are temporary and can be reversed, it’s still a good idea to avoid this and make sure children are aware of it.
- Eye Exercises Can Improve Vision
Some websites and ads now claim that it is possible to correct your vision ‘naturally’, by simply doing a prescribed set of eye exercises, which you often need to pay to find out about. These are gaining popularity with many people who prefer not to wear glasses or contact lenses, and some suggest that there is evidence that these exercises can improve eyesight. However, this is unfortunately a myth, as there is no evidence to suggest that eye exercises can in fact help you to correct eyesight that is already poor. Vision problems are caused by a range of physiological factors, including the shape of the eyeball, degeneration of the tissue and damage to the retina. These are all things that cannot be changed by doing eye exercises, and therefore it is highly unlikely that programmes like those advertised will actually improve your vision.