Eyesight myths debunked

According to the New York Times article, The Age of Misinformation, “we are in an era of endemic misinformation” and that “sharing and believing misinformation is on the rise.”

Sometimes, we hear information repeated so often we accept it as truth. When it comes to eyesight myths and your eye health though, you can’t afford to take every rumour at face value. So, next time you hear someone say they’re going to eat carrots so that they won’t need glasses, or that wearing glasses makes your eyesight worse over time, you can feel confident that by smiling and walking away you won’t be caught up in the spread of misinformation.

Here at John O’Connor Optometrists in Auckland, we’re all about helping you seeing things clearly which is why we’ve put together a list of some of the most common eyesight myths and misconceptions surrounding glasses.

Myth #1: Wearing prescription glasses will weaken my eyesight

This is not true. Glasses don’t change or weaken your eyes. Wearing glasses neither fixes the physical issues within your eyes nor causes any other problems.

Refractive errors occur when the eye cannot clearly focus, resulting in blurred vision. Nearsightedness, or myopia, one of the most frequent refractive defects, usually starts in childhood. Presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness, affects most middle-aged adults after the age of 40.

Wearing glasses does not worsen presbyopia or cause a child to become more myopic. Wearing glasses does not cause muscle atrophy around the eyes. The idea that pushing your eyes to focus without glasses, or that wearing a lower prescription than you require, will prevent refractive problems from worsening is incorrect.

Myth #2: Regular eye exercises will keep you from needing glasses

eye mythsPoor vision occurs because of the shape of your eye, your lenses, cornea, and the health of your eye tissues. These are the factors that dictate how well you see. Nonetheless, there are those out there that believe eye exercises can prevent you from needing eyeglasses.

According to Harvard Medical School, eye exercises can help delay the need for glasses or contacts in some people but exercising eye muscles will not eliminate the most common issues that need prescription lenses – namely, nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. These are what glasses are for.

Eye exercises may have some benefits but pushing the eyes to concentrate without the help of glasses to strengthen the muscles around the eyeball and thereby slow the progression of refractive errors is not one of them.

Granted, it is tempting to believe this is the case. Our lenses use flexing ligaments to change shape in order to adjust the amount of light that reaches the retina, but exercises won’t help you see better for longer. Permanent lens shape changes occur as we age and exercising these muscles will not reshape the lens sufficiently to see properly.

Myth #3: Wearing eyeglasses makes you dependent on them

Wearing glasses doesn’t make your eyes dependent on them. Some seem to believe that by constantly wearing prescription lenses, you force your eyes to become reliant on them so that when your glasses come off, your vision worsens. This is far from the case.

When you feel like you need to wear your glasses more frequently, you’ve just got used to your improved vision. Often people will wait quite some time before they start wearing corrective lenses, but once they do, they realise they have been putting up with quite a lot of blur. Stop wearing glasses and they feel their eyes have weakened because blur is no longer OK.

Also, with nearsightedness early in life, there is a natural progression to stronger and stronger lenses. The same occurs with presbyopia. Glasses or contact lenses have not weakened the eyes.

Glasses do not make any changes to your eyes. They simply alter the way light enters your eye, which allows your eyes and brain to see objects in front of them more clearly. Relying on your prescription glasses simply comes from getting used to seeing the world more clearly.

Myth #4: A weaker prescription will train your eyes to see better

The idea that wearing a weaker prescription to somehow train your eyes to see better is often put out there by the many eye exercise programme proponents. And while it’s true that some people wear stronger glasses than they need, wearing weaker lenses than you need won’t help, especially once presbyopia kicks in.

Myth #5: Wearing the wrong prescription can damage your eyes.

If you wear someone else’s glasses, or your prescription is too weak or too strong, you won’t see as clearly as you would with the proper prescription. When you wear the incorrect prescription, the light rays that enter your eyes aren’t what your eyes need to see properly, so your vision will not be corrected. You may get a headache or feel dizzy if you wear the wrong prescription for too long, but you won’t damage your eyes.

Myth #6: Taking a break from wearing your glasses is good for your eyes and allows them to rest

Glasses don’t weaken your vision or cause any eye problems, so if you take a break from wearing them, you’ll simply strain your eyes and tire them out faster.

However, if your eyes are tired from excessive close-up work — such as staring at the computer — visual breaks to focus on objects at longer distances are a good idea. Remember the 20/20/20 rule.

Myth #7: Eating carrots while protect your eyesight

While it’s true that carrots contain Vitamin A, which is good for your eyes, dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit are actually better; they can protect the eyes from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration — serious diseases that require professional medical help.

Myth #8: Glasses make you look bad

Whoever created this crazy myth just doesn’t know style. Glasses make you look cool. This stereotype that glasses are not attractive finds its roots in mainstream media as far too often we’ll see a ‘nerdy’ character go through a makeover that involves removing their glasses. Films and TV shows also portray characters being picked on for wearing glasses.

Wearing glasses doesn’t make you look bad at all. In fact, a study by the Swiss Journal of Psychology found that wearing glasses made your face more distinctive and appealing.

Inaccurate perceptions about glasses

We’ve looked at some common misconceptions about glasses that need to be debunked, as they can cause needless suffering.

The shape of your eye, the lenses, and cornea are what causes bad vision. Glasses cannot change these parts of your eye; they simply alter the way in which light enters your eyes.

There are millions of people that rely on eyeglasses to correct their vision, which is why it’s so surprising to see so many misconceptions surrounding the wearing of them.

As optometrists, our job is to get rid of some of these misconceptions and eyesight myths in order to encourage those struggling with their vision to seek the eye care they need.

If you suspect vision changes in your vision, make an appointment for a comprehensive eye test with one of our Auckland optometrists by calling 09 522 1283 or 09 836 1731. Concerns can be discussed, and your eye-care practitioner will recommend the best path forward.