The experts at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai look at the top 10 questions surrounding our eyes and our vision, to sort out the facts from the fiction.
1. Is sitting too close to the TV harmful to the eyes?
Fiction: Parents may groan but there is no evidence that nestling on a cushion right in front of the TV damages the eyesight. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), children can actually focus on close objects without eyestrain better than adults, so they often develop the habit of sitting close to the television or reading books close to their eyes (at night by torchlight). However, sitting too close for comfort may give you a headache and of course, if you need to sit close to the TV to see the screen clearly, this may be a sign of nearsightedness.
2. If you cross your eyes, they may stay crossed.
Fiction: Parents love to scare their children with this old wives’ tale but it is fiction; of course, if your child’s eyes are crossing involuntarily and frequently, then consult an ophthalmologist.
3. Children inherit their parents’ poor eyesight.
This can be a fact: Your children may inherit your vision characteristics and could follow your need to wear glasses or may inherit other eye conditions.
4. Eating carrots may improve vision.
Everyone’s favourite eye myth is just that – fiction.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A, a nutrient which is essential for good sight but so are many other foods (cheese, eggs, asparagus, apricots, nectarines, and milk, for example) so a well-balanced diet can provide the vitamin A needed for good vision. The myth originated during the Second World War when carrots were promoted as a healthy alternative foodstuff during rationing with the added benefit of improving night vision – especially useful in getting to bomb shelters at night (and helping disguise the Royal Air Force’s use of Radar, in the process) .
Interestingly, artificial sweeteners such as cyclamates can make your eyes more sensitive to light – as can other factors including antibiotics, hypertension medications, diuretics and antidiabetic medications.
5. Computer use can damage the eyes.
Fiction: According to the AAO, computer use won’t harm the eyes but using a computer for a long time means that the eyes blink less than normal (like they do when reading or performing other close work) which can make them dry, and give a feeling of eyestrain or fatigue. So take frequent breaks when using one.
6. Two blue-eyed parents can’t produce a child with brown eyes.
Fiction: Two blue-eyed parents can have a child with brown eyes (and vice versa), although it’s very rare.
7. Only boys can be colour-blind.
Fiction: An estimated 8 per cent of boys have some degree of colour blindness, compared to less than 1 per cent of girls.
8. The eye is the only organ never to grow – it is full size at birth.
Fiction: The eye is not full size at birth but continues to grow which is partly why children may need vision correction during childhood.
9. Wearing glasses too much will make the eyes dependent on them.
Fiction but….: Refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness, or astigmatism) change as children get older because of many different variables but mainly due to genetics. Your eyes will not grow weaker as a result of using corrective lenses although your prescription may change over time due to ageing or disease. For those over the age of 45 who use reading glasses for the first time, the brain will adjust to the new visual sensation creating a perception of weakening vision.
10. Looking straight at the sun will damage your eyes
Fact: Looking at the sun may cause headache and distort your vision temporarily but it can also cause permanent damage. Any exposure to sunlight adds to the cumulative effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation on your eyes which has been linked to eye disorders such as macular degeneration, solar retinitis, and corneal dystrophies.
For those wondering about the risk of contact lenses slipping around to the back of the eye – don’t worry; this is definitely fiction!