Myths About Eye Care

Myths are as old as man kind. Our country is well known for myths & blind faiths in various aspects of life. Eyes are the windows to the world & there has been numerous myths & misconceptions about eye care leading in some cases to serious consequences such as blindness. The goal of this article is to remove these misconceptions in the minds of the public.

“Squint is a sign of good luck”

Squint eye is not a sign of good luck: it could be a sign of blindness in that eye. A child with squint eye will see two images. Hence to get a clear vision and avoid confusion, the brain will suppress the squinting eye and starts processing the image only from the straight eye. Hence the squinting eye will develop lazy eye due to disuse.

"Reading too much, reading in dim light or watching too much television can harm eyesight"

Though dim light can cause strain and fatigue to the eyes (a headache at the most) but they cannot cause any long-term or permanent damage to the eyes or affect the "power" of the eyes. It is definitely advisable to have good lighting to avoid eye strain.

“Wearing eyeglasses will cause you to become dependent on them.”

Eyeglasses are used to correct blurred vision. Since clear vision with eyeglasses is preferable to uncorrected vision, you may find that you want to wear your eyeglasses more often. Although it may feel as if you are becoming dependent on your eyeglasses, you are actually just getting used to seeing clearly.

“Eating carrots improves your vision.”

Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is essential for sight, but many other foods also contain this vitamin. A well-balanced diet, with or without carrots, provides all the vitamin A necessary for good vision.

“Eye exercises can cure myopia”

Myopia or short sight is most often caused by increase in the length of the eye ball. Eye exercises cannot shorten the length & hence cannot cure myopia.

"Using a higher powered glass can damage eyes"

A wrong prescription can cause blurred vision and/or eye strain but as far as damage is concerned- a headache is the most you can expect! Although wearing the correct prescription is mandatory for clear vision and ocular comfort, a wrong one will do no serious wrong if worn for a short time.

“Using computers can damage your eyes.”

Working on computers will not harm your eyes. Often, when using a monitor for long periods of time, just as when reading or doing other close work, you blink less often than normal. This reduced rate of blinking makes your eyes dry, which may lead to the feeling of eyestrain or fatigue. Try to take regular breaks to look up or across the room. Looking at objects farther away often relieves the feeling of strain on your eyes. Keep the monitor between 18 to 24 inches from your face and at a slight downward angle. If your vision blurs or your eyes tire easily, you should have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist.

“Sitting close to the television can damage children’s eyes.”

Children can focus at close distance without eyestrain better than adults. They often develop the habit of holding reading materials close to their eyes or sitting right in front of the television. There is no evidence that this damages their eyes, and the habit usually diminishes as children grow older. Children with nearsightedness (myopia) sometimes sit close to the television in order to see the images more clearly. Hence if a child is watching television from a close distance, please get his/ her eyes checked.

"All sun glasses are the same”

Sun glasses are meant to protect our eyes from the harmful effects of solar radiation. A good sun glass should be able to filter all UV (ultraviolet) rays, which are harmful to our eyes (can cause cataracts & macular degeneration). Cheap road side sun glasses will not have UV filters and may cause more damage than good.

“A cataract must be ripe before it can be removed”

In olden days eye surgeries were performed with naked eyes. Hence a fully mature cataract was easy to operate upon. Present day cataract surgeons have access to very good microscopes & phacoemulsification systems (ultrasonic equipment used to remove cataracts) Hence a cataract does not have to ripen before it is removed. When a cataract prevents you from doing the things you like or need to do (such as driving etc), consider having it removed.

“You do not need to have your eyes checked until you are in your 40s or 50s”

There are several eye diseases that do not show symptoms that are treatable (most notably glaucoma) that can begin prior to your 40s. Regular eye checks , at least once in two years is necessary for all age groups.

"Eye-transplant can cure all eye disorders"

In the procedure of eye-transplant, only the "cornea" or the transparent membrane in the front area is transplanted; not the whole eye. Cornea is like a watch glass, which protects the watch. Cornea is normally transparent to allow light to pass through. Injuries, infections etc can make this layer opaque. These are the patients who will benefit from eye transplants. Patients who have optic nerve or retinal damage will not benefit from eye transplants.

“All ‘eye doctors’ are the same.”

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.S. or D.O.) with special training to diagnose and treat all diseases of the eye. To become an ophthalmologist requires a minimum of eight years of medical school and hospital training after college. An ophthalmologist will have a thorough knowledge of eye anatomy, physiology & eye disorders and is qualified to provide all aspects of eye care, including cataract surgery, laser, and other eye surgeries. Optometrists and opticians are other types of eye care professionals. They are trained to provide some aspects of eye care like prescribing glasses & contact lenses, but they are not medical doctors and have not attended medical school and residency training.

So please do not give your ear to these myths. Take proper care of you eyes as life with out proper sight becomes very difficult.