Seven Myths About Your Vision

You’ve probably come across some myths about your eyes on the internet or gotten some well-intentioned (but inaccurate) advice from family members. It may be tempting to believe these misconceptions, but there is no convincing medical evidence to back them up.

Key takeaways:
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    Wearing your glasses as prescribed can alleviate many visual symptoms, improve certain eye conditions, and protect your eyes from sun exposure. However, they will not cure your eyesight permanently!
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    Eating carrots may not cure your vision problems, but a healthy, balanced diet is essential to your vision and health.
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    Routine eye exams are an integral part of maintaining good eye health. Additionally, they can help detect general health problems before they become more severe.

Below, we’ll debunk seven common myths about your vision and eye health.

Myth 1: Wearing glasses permanently cure your vision

Refractive errors are vision problems that result in blurry vision from light focusing improperly in your eye. You may know these refractive errors as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (imperfect curvature of the eye).

Glasses correct your vision by refocusing light onto your retina (light-sensitive tissue inside the eye) to create a clear image. Once you remove the glasses, you take away this benefit. The glasses do not physically alter your eye to improve vision permanently.

Myth 2: Eating more carrots improves your eyesight

Carrots contain beta-carotene, which your body uses to make vitamin A. Deficiency in vitamin A causes nyctalopia, otherwise known as night blindness. Ingesting more beta-carotene has been shown to improve night vision in people with nyctalopia.

However, if you have normal night vision, eating extra carrots does not improve your vision beyond what is considered normal or prevent the need for glasses. Since excess vitamin A is toxic, your body stops converting beta-carotene once you consume enough of it.

But that doesn’t mean you need to stop eating carrots. Vitamin A helps support the function of your retina and cornea (the clear covering in front of the eye). Getting the recommended daily serving of carrots can still benefit your eyes!

Myth 3: Using glasses makes your eyes worse

Some people believe that wearing glasses weakens the eye muscles and makes your eyesight worse. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this myth.

In reality, your brain adapts to seeing a clear image when you put on your glasses. When you remove the glasses, things may seem blurrier than before because your brain now prefers a clear image over a blurry one (not because your vision has gotten worse).

In addition, your focusing muscles relax when you use glasses. If you stop using glasses, these muscles can compensate to some extent, which is why some feel that their vision gets better without glasses. However, the prolonged strain of the muscles causes eye fatigue, headaches, and blurred vision.

Myth 4: Crossing your eyes frequently makes them crossed permanently

Your eye muscles are finely coordinated to move your eyes in all directions. When looking far away, your eye alignment is straight. Looking at objects up close requires both eyes to turn inwards, or converge.

While your eyes won’t get stuck in this position if you read a lot, they can become fatigued over prolonged periods of convergence. You may notice double vision, blurry vision, fatigue, headaches, or difficulty refocusing.

Esotropia is a condition in which one or both eyes turn inward. In many instances, glasses or vision therapy (prescribed eye exercises) can improve the eye turn, particularly if esotropia is caught early. Other cases may require eye muscle surgery to realign the eye.

Myth 5: Reading in dim light makes your vision worse

Reading a book in dim light does not impact your vision or eye health. However, human eyes are not well-adapted to see in the dark like other animals, so our eyes must work harder in poor lighting conditions.

As a result, you may not blink often enough, causing your eyes to dry out. Additionally, your pupils expand in the dark to let in more light. These things can make reading more difficult and cause eye irritation, headaches, and light sensitivity. The best action is to rest your eyes often and use sufficient lighting to read.

Myth 6: The darker the sunglasses, the more sun protection

Dark glasses do not always equate to better ultraviolet (UV) protection. Any sunglasses you buy should indicate 100% UV protection or UV 400 (which means they block harmful UV rays up to 400 nanometers).

UV protection has nothing to do with the dark tint in your glasses. Many clear glasses have UV protection. For example, polycarbonate is a popular lens material that provides nearly 100% UV protection.

On the other hand, dark glasses without proper UV protection are more dangerous than not wearing glasses at all. When you use dark-tinted lenses, your pupils dilate to allow more light in. Without UV protection, this leaves your eyes more vulnerable to sun damage.

Dark sunglasses may improve your comfort on a sunny day, but make sure they have complete UV protection. If you’re unsure, you can bring the glasses to your local optician so they can check for UV-blocking properties.

Myth 7: Routine eye exams are unnecessary if your vision hasn’t changed

Many eye diseases, such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, cause irreversible vision loss. However, in their earlier stages, you will not have any symptoms and may retain good vision.

The only way to diagnose and treat these issues is to have regular eye exams. During an exam, your eye doctor can detect warning signs of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, brain tumors, and many other health conditions.

There are many misconceptions about your vision and eye health, some of which can harm your eyes. If you’re in doubt about how to take care of your eyes, scheduling an appointment with your eye doctor is the best solution!