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Common eye health myths exposed

publication date: Jan 9, 2014

Eye myths Worried all those hours of television watching are damaging your eyes? Think that the link between eating carrots and good eyesight is just a myth? Or perhaps you’re never quite sure if reading in dim light is actually bad for your eyesight. Here, The College of Optometrists reveals the truth behind some of the most common eye care myths.

Watching TV too much, or too closely, will damage your eyes

False: Watching too much TV, or sitting very close to the set,  may make your eyes tired or give you a headache –particularly if you are watching TV in the dark as you are effectively looking at a moving light – but won’t cause any serious permanent damage.

Eating carrots will improve your eyesight

Some truth: Carrots are a source of vitamin A, which is important for the eyes. However, before you embark on an all-carrot diet to improve your vision there are other things you can do, such as not smoke, that are also important for eye health. We recommend you eat a balanced diet to maintain good health.

Wearing someone else's glasses may damage your eyes

False: Although you may not be able to see very well with them, and may get a headache or double vision, your eyes won’t come to any harm from wearing glasses that are not your prescription.

Reading in the dark or dim light will damage your eyes

False: Reading in dim light, or in the dark, is highly unlikely to cause any permanent damage to your eyes, but it could cause eye strain, which can be uncomfortable. Your eyes adjust to the light around them and your pupils enlarge in order to collect the most light. 

We are designed to see detail better in the light so. although you will not harm yourself by reading in the dark, it is more difficult to see and may cause a headache.

Contact lenses can get lost behind your eyes

False: The membrane that covers the white of your eye (the conjunctiva) also lines your eyelids, so it is impossible for a contact lens to get lost behind your eyes. 

You can sleep in your contact lenses

Some truth: Unless you have been told specifically by your optometrist that you can sleep in your contact lenses, you should avoid this. Your eyes need to breathe whilst wearing contact lenses, and this is more difficult when they are closed.  This – and the fact that that your contact lenses will not move on your eyes as much as when you are awake and blinking regularly - can mean that you are also at more risk of infection. Always follow the guidelines given to you by your optometrist and‘if in doubt, take them out.

Wearing glasses will make your eyes weaker

False: Wearing your glasses will not make your eyes weaker.

By looking at the patterns, colours and other characteristics of the iris you can tell what health problems a person has

False: There is no scientific proof for this. However, when an optometrist carries out an eye examination they will not only test your sight, but will also look inside your eyes to check their health and look for signs of some general health problems.

Holding books up close will damage a child's eyes

False: Where, or how, your child holds a book has no effect on the health of the eyes or the need for glasses. Sometimes, children find it more comfortable to read close-up and their very good focusing ability makes it easy for them to do so. However, holding things close may indicate that your child is short sighted and cannot see things far away clearly.  If you are worried about this you should take your child for an eye examination.