Most Common Eye Myths Exposed: The Focused Truth
My childhood memories are filled mostly with plenty of happy times spent surrounded by friends and family, but there’s also a blaring soundtrack to those younger years, courtesy of my beloved and overprotective mother, who in hindsight may have nearly loved me and my siblings to death.
“Don’t sit too close to the television or you’ll break your eyes!”
“Don’t cross your eyes unless you want them to get stuck that way!”
“Eat all your carrots if you want to have strong eyes!”
Well, don’t tell my mom, but somehow, I managed to survive my entire childhood and well into adulthood without crossed eyes or the image of Scooby Doo burned into my corneas. And despite eating plenty of yucky carrots as a kid, I still need contact lenses to see clearly. So, was my dear old mom misinformed? Or lying? Or a little of both? To settle the controversial issue, I decided to put some of the most popular eye myths to the test.
Truth or Myth?
Myth: Reading in the dark damages your eyes and decreases your vision.
Fact: While reading or doing anything else in the dark or in faint light may put strain on your eyes and make them feel tired, it will not harm your eyes. Your eyes may begin to feel dry, itchy, and blurry, or you may get a headache and feel nauseated, but those symptoms will go away once you expose your eyes to better lighting. Plus, it’s movies, not books, that are made to be looked at in the dark, so you should turn on a light to read, anyway.
Myth: It’s all right to look at the sun, a welding torch, or some other bright object as long as you squint your eyes really tight.
Fact: Even if you squint, powerful ultra-violet rays emitted from the sun and other objects can still get into your eyes and potentially damage the cornea, lens, and retina. Looking directly at the sun for less than a minute with the naked eye can blind you, even during a lunar eclipse. So eye experts agree that it’s best to avoid looking directly at the sun and wear protective eye glasses when welding or working around other very bright objects.
Myth: Staring at a computer monitor for long periods of time will damage your eyes.
Fact: As much as I’d love for this one to be true so that I could take more time off work, sadly, it’s not. As with reading in the dark or with dim light, working at a computer monitor for hours at a time may make your eyes feel tired and dry but will not harm your eyes. Let’s keep this one a secret from the bosses, okay?
Myth: Eating lots of carrots will give you sharper, clearer vision.
Fact: If it was the subject of an episode of Gilligan’s Island – remember when the radioactive food supplies washed up on the island and, after eating the carrots, Mary Ann could see far-away ships passing by? – it has to be true, right? Sorry, li’l buddy, it’s a myth. But at least it’s a myth with a shred of credibility. Carrots are full of Vitamin A, which is important for healthy eye growth among other things. They also pack lots of beta-carotene, which may help slow the spread of cataracts and macular degeneration. However, you’d have to eat a mountain of carrots to notice a difference. In fact, Vitamin A can actually be harmful if eaten in excessive amounts. The truth is, a healthy diet provides all your eyes need.
Myth: Swimming with soft contact lenses in your eyes can lead to more eye infections?
Fact: This one’s actually true. Leaving your soft contacts in your eyes when you take a dip in the ocean, a hot tub, or a swimming pool can trap harmful bacterial and foreign particles close to your eyes. In some cases, this can lead to infections and even blindness. So the next time you’re snorkeling in Hawaii, splurge on renting a mask and remove your contacts just to be safe.
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