You may have heard this 100’s of times: “Doing that can hurt your eyes!” But is it true? Discover the real facts about the following eye-related myths.
Myth: “Reading in dim light can damage your eyes.”
Fact: It does not damage your eyes to read in dim light. But brighter lighting can make it easier to see what you are reading and help prevent painful eye strain.
Myth: “Children will outgrow crossed eyes.”
Fact: Children do not grow out of misaligned or “crossed” eyes (called strabismus).
This eye problem needs to be treated as soon as possible. Children with strabismus may develop poor vision in one eye. This is because the brain “turns off” or ignores the image from the misaligned or lazy eye.
Myth: “Using computers can damage your eyes.”
Fact: Looking at a computer screen will not damage your eyes. But when you use a computer (or read a book, or do other close-up work) for a long period of time, you do not blink very often. You can get dry, red eyes and blurry vision. To soothe your eyes, take a break every 20 minutes or so. Look up or across the room. You might also find relief by using artificial tears that will keep your eyes moist.
Myth: “Wearing the wrong eyeglasses will damage your eyes.”
Fact: Eyeglasses are designed to make your vision clearer. If you wear glasses that are not the correct prescription, it will not damage your eyes. However, you may feel eye strain. Your eyes may feel srained and vision may be blurry. You may also get a headache. This should go away when you take the glasses off.
Wearing the wrong eyeglass prescription is mostly an inconvenience. However, it is more serious for some. Children less then 8 years old who need glasses should always wear the correct eyeglass prescription. This can prevent them from developing amblyopia (also called “lazy eye”). Amblyopia is when eye sight in one eye is weaker than the other.
Myth: “Learning disabilities are caused by eye problems.”
Fact: A child has a learning disability if he or she has problems reading, doing math, or learning. Studies show that vision issues do not cause learning disabilities. Also, eye exercises do not improve learning problems. Learning disabilities are caused by problems with how the brain processes the words or numbers it sees.
Sometimes, poor vision can be mistaken for a learning disability. Someone can have issues when reading simply because the words appear blurry.
Do you believe your child has a learning disability? Have them checked by a learning specialist and an eye doctor who can rule out any vision problems.
Myth: “Those with weak eyes or who wear glasses will wear out their eyes sooner if they read fine print or do a lot of close-up work.”
Fact: Using your eyes for any type of reading or detail work does not wear them out. Think of your eye as a camera. A camera will not wear out sooner if you take a lot of close-up pictures.
Lengthy hours of reading or close-up work can strain your eyes, making them tired. Simply resting your eyes periodically by gazing into the distance can relieve them, though.
Myth: “Sitting close up to the TV can damage a child’s eyes.”
Fact: Children can focus comfortably at close up distances better than adults. Studies show that sitting close up to the television does not damage a child’s vision. Nor does holding a book close up to the eyes while reading. Young children usually stop doing this as they grow older.
However, children who suffer from myopia (nearsightedness) may sit very near the TV to see the picture clearly. Children should have regular eye exams so any vision problems can be caught early.
Myth: “Normal wear of eyeglasses or contact lenses will make you dependent on them.”
Fact: Eyeglasses and contact lenses are used to correct blurry vision. In a way, you already are dependent on them, as they help you see clearly! But your uncorrected eyesight (eyesight without eyeglasses or contact lenses) does not get worse because you wear them.
Myth: “A cataract must be “ripe’ before you have it removed.”
Fact: Back in the day, it was thought that a cataract had to reach a specific stage (be “ripe”) to be removed. But a cataract can be removed as soon as it affects your vision.
Talk with an ophthalmologist if a cataract is keeping you from seeing well enough to do daily tasks. Surgery is the only way to get rid of a cataract.
Myth: “Eyes can be transplanted.”
Fact: The eye is connected to the brain by the optic nerve. This nerve is made of more than a million tiny nerve fibers. To transplant an eye, all of the nerve fibers would have to be reconnected to the brain. That is impossible. But it is possible to transplant a cornea (the clear front part of your eye). In fact, ophthalmologists have been doing this type of transplant surgery for many years. A corneal transplant is not the same as an eye transplant.
Myth: “All eye doctors are the same.”
Fact: Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians each play a crucial role in providing eye care. But their levels of training and experience are quite different from each other.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) trained and licensed in medical and surgical treatment of all eye diseases or abnormalities. They complete at least 12 years of training, including 4 years of college and at least 8 years of additional medical training. An ophthalmologist is the only eye care provider worldwide who is licensed to practice both medicine and surgery. Ophthalmologists are also take part in scientific research on the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision disorders.
An optometrist is a doctor of optometry (O.D.) trained and licensed to provide some aspects of eye care. They complete at least 3 years of college and 4 years of optometry training from a college of optometry. They are licensed to do eye exams and vision tests, prescribe and dispense corrective lenses, detect certain eye abnormalities, and prescribe medicine for some eye diseases. In lots of states, they cannot prescribe certain medicines or perform eye surgery.
An optician is not an eye doctor. They are professionals who prepare, measure and adapt the fit of eyeglasses or contact prescriptions written by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. An optician has a minimum of a 2-year degree in opticianry or a 6,000-hour apprenticeship education and is licensed in their state.