By Dr. Kirk R. Jeffreys, III
Eye Care Do’s and Don’ts—Myths vs. Realities
As a practicing ophthalmologist here in Central Mississippi for more than 22 years, I have been truly blessed to meet and get to know many wonderful people during this time—while helping them improve their vision and quality of life.
As you can imagine, along the way I have been asked just about every question in the book in terms of the “do’s and don’ts” of proper eye care. Here are some of the more common questions (myths) I’m asked and my responses (realities).
MYTH: “Reading in dim light is harmful to your eyes.”
TRUTH: Using your eyes in dim light does not damage them. For centuries, all nighttime reading and sewing were done by candlelight or with gas or kerosene lamps. However, good lighting does make reading easier and can prevent eye fatigue.
MYTH: “Using computers can damage your eyes.”
TRUTH: Working on computers will not harm your eyes. When using a computer for long periods, you blink less often than normal. This makes your eyes dry, which may lead to eyestrain or fatigue. Take regular breaks to look up or across the room at objects farther away. Keep the monitor 18–24 inches from your face and at a slight downward angle. Consider using artificial tears. If your eyes tire easily, have them checked by an ophthalmologist.
MYTH: “Wearing the wrong kind of eyeglasses damages your eyes.”
TRUTH: Eyeglasses are used to sharpen your vision. While correct eyeglasses or contacts help you see clearly, wearing a pair with the wrong lenses—or not wearing glasses at all—will not physically damage your eyes. However, children under 8, who need eyeglasses, should wear their own prescription to prevent the possibility of developing amblyopia or “lazy eye.”
MYTH: “Sitting close to the television can damage children’s eyes.”
TRUTH: 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 to see the images more clearly.
MYTH: “Children outgrow misaligned eyes.”
TRUTH: 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 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 misaligned eyes are treated, the better. Treatment may include patching, eyeglasses, eye drops, surgery, or a combination of these methods.
MYTH: “Eating carrots improves your vision.”
TRUTH: 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.
MYTH: “People with weak eyes should avoid reading fine print.”
TRUTH: 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.
MYTH: “Wearing eyeglasses will cause you to become dependent on them.”
TRUTH: Eyeglasses are used to correct blurry 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.
MYTH: “Contact lenses can prevent nearsightedness from getting worse.”
TRUTH: Some 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.
Dr. Kirk Jeffreys is an ophthalmologist with EyeCare Professionals in Jackson, Mississippi. His specialties include Blade-Free LASIK and Laser Cataract vision correction procedures. For more information, visit www.eyecare4ms.com or call 601.366.1085.