We hope everyone is enjoying their holidays and getting ready to ring in the new year! If you haven’t already, we encourage you to use up your benefits before they expire (if you don’t it’s like throwing away money!). For our optometry blog today, we’ll be busting common myths about eyes that we hear quite often.
1. Wearing my glasses will make my eyes dependent on them.
Why this is wrong: The muscles in your eyes used for focusing only get weaker as you grow older and the more you use them. They’re not like your quads or biceps where the more you work them, the stronger they become. By NOT wearing your glasses as a far-sighted person, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your eye muscles to constantly bring your vision into focus for distance and even more so when you read or look at anything up close. Essentially it’s asking your eyes to hold a squat all day to see far and to pulse when you need to see up close. For near-sighted people it’s slightly different. These people will often be seen squinting to see far. The squinting and strain you’re putting on your eyes to try to see better far can cause the prescription to increase at a faster rate than if you wore the correct prescription so your eyes can relax. It is fine for people with mild prescriptions to go without as long as they aren’t straining their eyes to see better than what they can naturally see.
2. Prescribe me less of a prescription so that my eyes don’t worsen as fast.
This is common belief that if you wear a lower prescription, your prescription won’t increase as fast. I’m not sure where this belief originated from but the reason for not doing this is the same as above. If your eyes aren’t seeing as well as they should be and you strain to try to see better, you’re still straining your eyes. It is fine to increase your prescription in increments to where it should be, but the period of time between those increments shouldn’t be years. Especially for children, it is important that they see clearly to ensure their vision is developing properly. The environment in which their eyes are developing is a more important factor to how much they change (ie. screen time). You can think of your eyes this way, if you’re constantly forcing them to look up close, they will want to lessen the burden by becoming more near-sighted so they can see clearer up close without having to engage the eye muscles as much. If they’re not under that constant stress to focus up close, there is no perceived need to see clearer at near.
3. I don’t need an eye exam unless I can see/feel there’s something wrong.
Everyone should be getting regular eye exams every 1-2 years. Many eye diseases or problems with the eyes will not be apparent to the person until it is too late. Diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration are not detectable by the person until they are in late stages and vision loss occurs. Early detection is key for many eye diseases. It is especially important for children to start getting regular yearly eye exams to ensure their eyes develop properly. Children often do not know what clear vision looks like, so it is important to bring them to see an optometrist to ensure they are seeing to their best potential. A lot of the time, gradual vision loss is not noticeable either. By having regular eye exams, you will be able to ensure the health of your eyes is being maintained and that you and your family are seeing to the best of their ability.
4. Reading in dim light will damage my eyes.
The act of reading in dim light will not directly damage your eyes, but it will cause strain and fatigue. A lack of proper lighting causes your eyes to work harder to bring things into focus. The increased demand on your eye muscles is what causes the strain and fatigue. Good lighting will relieve some of the stress being put on your eye muscles.
5. Eating carrots will improve my eye sight.
Carrots are a good source of vitamin A but only very little is required for healthy eyes. If anything, a large consumption of carrots will turn your skin orange due to the carotene content in carrots. For those of you concerned about eye vitamins, Vitalux manufactures a good ocular vitamin that covers all the vitamins (vitamin C, E, zinc, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin) needed for healthy eyes called Vitalux Healthy Eyes (which is available at most drug stores over the counter). If you are currently taking other multivitamins or medications, it is important to check with your family doctor prior to adding Vitalux Healthy Eyes to your diet to ensure there are no complications.
6. Staring at the sun while you’re squinting or have sunglasses on is okay.
It is never a good idea to stare at the sun or anything related to the sun (ie. solar eclipses). The sun is the source of powerful UV rays and although sunglasses can block UV rays, it isn’t 100%. Staring at the sun can cause severe damage by burning your macula (the part of your eye that provides you with sharp vision). The same goes for certain types of lasers and welding flares. Staring directly at those sources of light can damage your eyes if you are not properly protected.
Hopefully we have helped to clear up some common misconceptions about the eyes. As always, we are here if you have any questions or concerns so feel free to visit us at Wink Optometry, your local Burnaby optometry clinic or give us a call.