By William Martin, MD, F.A.C.S.
Fact or Fiction?
Reading in dim light will hurt your eyes.
Fiction – reading in dim light will not damage your eyes, for centuries all night time reading and sewing was done by candle light, fire light or gas lamps. While this cannot harm the eyes good lighting does make reading easier and will prevent eye fatigue.
Using computers can damage your eyes.
Fiction – working on computers or video display terminals (VDT’s) is not harmful, however if you are using a VDT over a long period of time, we tend to blink less often as we do with any kind of close work. The reduced rate of blinking will tend to make the eyes feel uncomfortable or dry, which can lead to a feeling of eye strain or fatigue. To combat this, take regular breaks and try to blink frequently, in addition you may consider the use of artificial tears, many people keep a bottle of artificial tears near their VDT in order to relieve discomfort in their eye.
Wearing the wrong kind of glasses can damage your eyes.
Fiction – Eyeglasses simply help us to focus our vision, although the correct prescription in your eyeglasses or contacts can help you see more clearly, wearing a pair of glasses which is incorrect will not harm your eyes, although it may cause your eyes to feel uncomfortable.
The only exception to this is that children younger than 8 years old who need eyeglasses should only wear their own prescription, because wearing an incorrect prescription can contribute to the development of the amblyopia or lazy eye.
Children outgrow crossed eyes.
Fiction – children do not outgrow crossed eyes, a child’s whose eyes are crossed may develop poor vision in one eye because the brain ignores the blurred image from the misaligned eye. As a result the “Crossed Eye” will not develop good vision; all children with crossed eyes should be evaluated as early as possible by an eyecare professional.
Learning disabilities are caused by eye problems.
Fiction – difficulties with reading or other learning difficulties does not appear to be related to visual problems. Children with learning difficulties however can benefit with special help from teachers or other people with special training in this area. Before beginning such treatment it is important for the child to have a complete medical eye examination.
Sitting close to the television can damage your eyes.
Fiction – children can focus at very close distances without eye strain better than adults. They often develop the habit of holding material that they are reading very close to themselves or sitting right in front of the television. There is no evidence that this contributes to eye damage.
Eating carrots improves your vision.
A little bit of fiction and a little bit of fact – Carrots are rich with Vitamin A, which is essential for sight. Therefore they do in fact help keep our eyes healthy, however a well balanced diet with or without carrots should be able to provide all the Vitamin A necessary for good vision.
People with weak eyes should avoid reading fine print.
Fiction – The use of the eyes will not cause the eye to “wear out”. You can use your eyes as much as you wish without fearing that they will wear out.
Wearing eyeglasses will cause you to become dependent on them.
Fiction – Eyeglasses simply correct blurry vision, since clear vision is preferable to blurry vision people that wear glasses find that they prefer to wear them in order to see more clearly.
Older people who gain second sight, may be developing cataracts.
Fact – Older individuals who suddenly find that they are able to see more clearly without glasses may actually be developing a symptom related to cataract.
Cataracts only occur as we get older.
Fiction – A cataract can develop at any age, even babies can get cataract. While cataracts develop at different ages for different reasons even very young people can develop them. It is true however the older we get, it is more likely that we will develop one.
Contact Lenses can help nearsightedness from getting worse.
A little fact and a little fiction – While contact lens wear can not permanently change our eye focus, some temporary improvement can be created by use of specially fitted contact lenses, however these changes are only temporary.
Eyes can be transplanted.
Fiction – Doctors can not transplant whole eyes; part of the eye can be transplanted. Most commonly the clear covering at the front of the eye and the cornea can be and is routinely transplanted in patients that have scarring of the cornea. However there is no technology which allows us to transplant an entire eye.
A Cataract must be ripe before it is removed.
Fiction – With older surgical techniques it was thought to be safer to remove a cataract when it is ripe, however with today’s modern techniques the cataract can be removed whenever it interferes with the patient’s lifestyle. If a patient is having trouble seeing for certain activities, they may wish to consider Cataract Surgery.