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Eye Care Facts and Myths
 

We have all been told by someone, at some time, "You'll hurt your eyes if you do that!" But do you know what is or is not good for your eyes?

Why not test yourself with the following "True" or "False" statements and see how much you know about your eyes?

Reading in dim light is harmful to your eyes.

False. Using your eyes in dim light does not damage them. For centuries, all nighttime reading and sewing was done by candlelight or with gas or kerosene lamps. Good lighting does make reading easier and prevents eye fatigue, especially for people who wear bifocals.

Using computers can damage your eyes.

False. working on computers or video display terminals (VDTs) will not harm your eyes. Often, when using a VDT 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 and consider the use of artificial tears. Looking at objects further away usually relieves the strain on your eyes. If your vision blurs or your eyes tire easily, you should have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist.

Wearing the wrong kind of glasses hurts your eyes.

False. Eyeglasses are devices to improve your vision. While the correct glasses or contacts help you to see clearly, wearing a pair with the wrong lenses, or not wearing glasses at all, will not physically damage your eyes. However, children less than 8 years old who need eyeglasses should wear their own prescription to prevent the possibility of Amblyopia or "lazy eye."

Children outgrow crossed or misaligned eyes.

False. Children do not outgrow crossed eyes. A child whose eyes are misaligned may develop poor vision in one eye, because the brain will "turn off" or ignore the image from the misaligned or "lazy eye." The unused or misaligned eye will not develop good vision unless it is forced to work, usually by patching the stronger eye.

Children who appear to have misaligned eyes should be examined by an ophthalmologist. In general, the earlier crossed or misaligned eyes are treated, the better. Treatment may include glasses, eye drops or surgery.

Learning disabilities are caused by eye problems.

False. Reading, mathematics and other learning problems among children are often referred to as learning disabilities. There is no scientific evidence that eye trouble causes learning disabilities, or that eye exercises cure learning problems.

Children with learning difficulties often need help from teachers and people with special training. Before such treatment begins, it is important for the child to have a complete medical eye examination, to see if he or she has a vision problem that may affect reading.

Sifting close to the television can damage children's eyes.

False. Children can focus up close without eye strain better than adults. They often develop the habit of holding reading material 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 disappears as children grow older. Children with nearsightedness (myopia) sometimes sit close to the television in order to see the images more clearly.

Eating carrots improves your vision.

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

People with weak eyes should avoid reading fine print.

False. It is said that people with weak eyes, people who wear glasses, will "wear out" their eyes sooner if they read fine print or do a lot of detail work.The concept of the eye as a muscle is incorrect. The eye more closely resembles a camera. A camera will not wear out sooner just because it is used to photograph intricate detail. You can use your eyes without fear of "wearing them out."

Wearing glasses will cause you to become dependent on them.

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

Older people who gain "second sight" may be developing cataracts.

True. Older individuals who wear reading glasses sometimes find themselves able to read without their glasses and think their eyesight is improving.The truth is they are becoming more nearsighted, which can be a sign of early cataract development.

A cataract must be "ripe" before it is removed.

False. A cataract is a gradual clouding of the clear lens inside the eye. Surgeons once believed that a cataract had to be "ripe" before it could be removed. Now we know this is not necessary.

When you are not able to see well enough to do the things you like to do or need to do, you should consider cataract surgery. Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract.

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye.

Cataracts can be removed with a laser.

False. Cataracts are not removed with lasers. The cloudy lens must be removed surgically.

After cataract surgery, a membrane within the eye may become cloudy. The membrane (sometimes called an "after-cataract" since it develops after cataract surgery) can be opened with laser surgery. This procedure using the laser should not be confused with the surgical removal of the cataract.

Contact lenses can prevent nearsightedness from getting worse.

False. Some people have been led to believe that wearing contact lenses will permanently correct nearsightedness, so that eventually they won't need either contacts or eyeglasses.

There is no evidence that wearing contact lenses produces a permanent improvement in vision or prevents nearsightedness from getting worse.

Eyes can be transplanted.

False. Medical science has no way to transplant whole eyes. Our eyes are connected to the brain by the optic nerve.

The optic nerve, much like a fiberoptic cable, is made up of more than one million tiny nerve fibers. This nerve cannot be "reconnected" once it has been severed. Because of this, the eye is never removed from its socket during surgery.

The cornea, the clear front part of the eye, has been successfully transplanted for many years. This corneal transplant is sometimes confused with an eye transplant.


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