Myth or Fact
We have all been told by someone at some time, “You’ll hurt your eyes
if you do that!” But do you really know what is or is not good for your
For centuries, our society has been carrying forward a handful of
myths regarding eye-care that do more harm than good. In fact, eye-
care professionals owe a large part of their business to these folksy
Test your present awareness … is the statement a myth or
Statement M F
1. Reading for prolonged periods in dim light can be
harmful to the eyes.
Myth: Dim lighting will not harm your eyes, but you may
have to work harder to “see” the items and your eyes may tire
more quickly – eye strain.
Reading in dim light can make your eyes feel tired. It is not
harmful and cannot damage your vision.
Though dim light and television (or computer) viewing can
cause strain and fatigue to the eyes (a headache at the most)
they cannot cause any long-term or permanent damage to the
eyes or affect the "power" of the eyes. Just like our arms
ache after too much weight lifting, our eye-muscles get tired
after too much focusing! However, that is not reason enough
for kids to cling to screens. Keeping the eyes comfortable is
as important as keeping them healthy. Do not cut down too
much on T.V time but do make sure that children take
frequent breaks and get enough out-door exercise.
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. However, good
lighting does make reading easier and can prevent eye
J. Northcott Page 1 August 2010
2. Eating carrots improves your eyesight.
Myth: Well, not exactly. Eating carrots won’t make you see
better than you already do, but Bugs’ favorite snack is packed
with important vitamins and nutrients that can help protect
Carrots are chocked full of Vitamin A and good for eyes – and
most people are not deficient in Vitamin A.
Vitamins A, C and E have been shown to reduce the impact of
cataracts and age related macular degeneration – also zinc
and selenium which are good for the retina. Other foods also
good for you: kiwi, whole grains, salmon, dark chocolate, red
wine, tuna, sunflower oil, spinach, egg yolks, and kale.
Carrots are high in Vitamin A, which is important for a
balanced diet. Eating carrots or other foods high in Vitamin A
will not improve your vision. Taking large amounts of Vitamin
A can be very harmful. People that do not eat a balanced diet
can develop vision problems along with other problems as
3. Strong enough glasses will help anyone who is visually
Myth: Refractive lenses (glasses) cannot correct all visual
impairments. Glasses cannot fix eye conditions that involve
the retina, optic nerve, or brain.
4. Seating too close to the television will harm your eyes.
Myth: 11 percent of doctors say they hear this myth on a
daily basis. Despite what your mother told you as a kid,
sitting closer than necessary to the television may cause
headaches, but will not cause eye damage.
There is no evidence that sitting close to the television will damage your
eyes. If this were true, office workers that sit 8 hours a day 17 inches
from their computer screens, would a ll be blind. Sit wherever you are
most comfortable when watching TV.
J. Northcott Page 2 August 2010
Crossed-eyes or squint in children is most often a sign of a muscular or
a visual anomaly. If left untreated during the developing years (1-9
years of age), the squinting eye fails to develop optimum vision and can
become permanently dysfunctional because the brain eventually shuts
off the weaker eye- a condition known as "amblyopia". A child who
squints even temporarily, demands immediate professional attention
and therapy to prevent visual impairment.
Children with nearsightedness (myopia) sometimes sit close to
the television in order to see the images more clearly.
5. In order to travel independently, a blind person needs a
Myth: To travel independently most Legally Blind people do
not even need to use a White Cane. Very few use dog guides.
Approximately 1,300,000 Americans are (Legally Blind);
109,000 of them use white canes; 7,000 use dog guides.
6. In time children usually outgrow crossed eyes.
Myth: Children do not outgrow crossed eyes – either eye
drops, patching or surgery is required. “Lazy eye” needs to be
corrected before the age of 8 or the child will lose the vision in
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
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
J. Northcott Page 3 August 2010
7. Individuals with weak eyes should rest their eyes often
to strengthen them.
Myth: Not using your eyes will not strengthen them. If your
eyes become tired a short rest/break should be taken … refer
to the 20/20/20 rule.
8. Spacing and contrast are often more important than size
of print when producing class materials for a student
with a visual impairment.
Fact: Large print is not always the answer – in fact
sometimes it is worse depending on the eye condition (retinitis
pigmentosa). Contrast is very important
9. Children do not have to have their eyes tested until they
are at least 5 years old.
Myth: The American Optometric Association (AOA)
recommends a six-month eye exam to make sure the baby's
eyes are developing correctly and to scan for serious
problems such as cataracts and tumours. Eighty percent of
what we learn is through our eyes, and one in four students
has a visual impairment problem. One study shows a
whopping 85 percent of America's pre-schoolers haven't
received a vision exam by age five. Experts recommend that
children see their eye doctor at six months, between the
ages of 2 and 3, before entering kindergarten, and annually
thereafter to ensure their eye health and learning
10. It is harmful to look at the sun if you squint or use dark
Fact: The sun's ultra-violet light will still get to your eyes,
damaging the cornea, lens and retina. Never look directly at a
solar eclipse. The direct light from the sun can blind a person
in less then a minute.
J. Northcott Page 4 August 2010
11. Wearing glasses tends to weaken the eyes.
Myth: 24 percent of doctors say they hear this myth on a
daily basis. Glasses do not weaken eyes. Eyes lose the ability
to focus on near objects as people get older, a natural
digression called presbyopia. Presbyopia, which means "old
eye" in Greek, becomes noticeable between the ages of 38
and 42. The bottom line is glasses do not weaken eyes;
rather eyes naturally become weaker with age.
12. Headaches are usually due to eye strain.
Myth: Maybe due to eye strain but not always.
13. Children should be taught not to hold their books too
close when reading, because doing so can harm their
Myth: A close reading/viewing distance does not harm your
eyes, but it can cause neck and back strain.
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
There is no evidence that this damages their eyes, and the
habit usually diminishes as children grow older.
14. As long as your eyes do not hurt you can wear contact
Myth: If your contacts aren't the overnight-approved,
extended wear variety, don't treat them that way. Daily wear
contacts need nightly soaks to clean and disinfect them.
Contacts are a great alternative for lenses, but proper contact
care is needed to prevent eye irritation and infection.
J. Northcott Page 5 August 2010
15. 3-D movies cause motion sickness.
Myth: You need 2 eyes to work together – you need good
30% of people suffer from marginal stereoscopic. They see
with both eyes, but visual co-ordination is off.
16. Working many hours in front of the computer will harm
Myth: 31 percent of doctors say they hear this myth on a
daily basis. Although using computers will not damage vision,
fatigue, headaches, neck pain or eye strain may occur with
use over extended periods of time. This overuse can result in
a serious condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)
To help prevent CVS remember the 20-20-20 rule; every 20
minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet
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.
Looking at objects farther away often relieves the feeling of
strain on your eyes. Keep the monitor between 18 to 24
inches from your face and at a slight downward angle. Also
consider the use of artificial tears. If your vision blurs or your
eyes tire easily, you should have your eyes examined by an
17. Older people who maybe having trouble seeing should
not use their eyes too much because they can wear
them out sooner.
Myth: You cannot wear your eyes out by using them. Cutting
down on reading or close work, will not help or harm your
J. Northcott Page 6 August 2010
18. Wearing sunglasses can help prevent eye damage and
Fact: Eyes are sensitive to UVA and UVV rays and lead to
cataracts and blindness – everyone should wear sunglasses.
Even on cloudy days you should be wearing sunglasses.
19. You need to speak louder when talking to a blind person.
Myth: Blind people have poor eyes not ears. Talk to them as
you would to anyone else. When in a room with several other
people use their name so they know you are speaking to them
and not someone else.
20. If you can see fine, your eyes are healthy you do not
need an eye exam.
Myth: Many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs
or symptoms. It is important to make annual visits to an eye
doctor to receive comprehensive eye exams. Through an
exam an eye doctor can detect signs of serious health
conditions including diabetes, brain tumours, and high
cholesterol, before physical symptoms are present.
Everyone should follow a proper eye health program that
includes a regular eye exam, whether or not they're having
any noticeable signs of problems.
21. All blind people read braille.
Myth: Only 10% of Legally Blind people read braille.
Developing the sense of touch it takes to read braille is
difficult for older people who make up 66% of the blind
population. Ninety percent of Legally Blind people have some
usable vision and most of them can read print or magnified
J. Northcott Page 7 August 2010
22. Wearing old glasses with an out-of-date or incorrect
prescription will damage your eyes.
Myth: No and old prescription will not damage your eyes
A wrong prescription can cause blurred vision and/or eye
strain but as far as damage is concerned- a headache is the
most you can expect! Although wearing the correct
prescription is mandatory for clear vision and ocular comfort, a
wrong one will do no serious wrong if worn for a short time.
Eyeglasses are devices used to sharpen your vision. Although
correct eyeglasses 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
eight years old who need eyeglasses should wear their own
prescription to prevent the possibility of developing amblyopia
or “lazy eye.”
23. Blind people have a sixth sense or extra ordinary
Myth: Most People with (20/20) vision do not pay much
attention to their other senses. Blind people have worked
hard to develop their other senses to compensate for their
vision loss. There is no sixth sense.
24. Squinting a lot damages your vision.
Myth: Squinting may be a sign that you need glasses, but it
isn't going to make your need for glasses any worse.
25. Doctors can only remove cataracts after they ripen.
Myth: Cataracts, unlike fruit, do not "ripen." It is up to you,
and your doctor, to decide when to remove a cataract. Most
people have them removed when the decrease in vision starts
J. Northcott Page 8 August 2010
26. Contact lenses can prevent nearsightedness from getting
Myth: 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.
27. Blind people live in a world of total darkness.
Myth: Only a small percentage of Legally Blind people see
nothing at all. Darkness is the eye telling you that there is no
light on. People who are (totally blind) do not have the ability
to see light, or darkness. They see nothing at all.
28. A dog-guide knows how to get its master where he
wants to go.
Myth: The blind person knows where they are going, and
how to get there, not the dog. The dog's trainer teaches it to
respond to traffic, street travel, and the commands their
master will give them. A blind person goes through a month
long training program to learn how to use the dog.
29. You cannot get cataracts unless you wear glasses.
Myth: Cataracts are caused by the aging and deterioration in
the lens of the eyes. This is a normal process that occurs in
about half of adults between the age of 65 and 75. Everyone
can develop cataracts, whether or not they wear glasses; in
fact, glasses can actually help postpone cataract surgery.
J. Northcott Page 9 August 2010
30. All “eye doctors” are the same.
Ophthalmologist (M.D. or D.O.)
A medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.) with special training to
diagnose and treat all diseases of the eye
Diagnoses and treats eye disease
Tests for visual acuity and visual field
Prescribes glasses, low vision aids (magnifiers) and
An ophthalmologist is qualified to provide all aspects of
eye care, including cataract, laser, and other eye
Prescribes glasses, low vision aids (magnifiers) and
teaches patients how to use them
May do low vision exams and provide vision training
Specializes in diagnosis and management of ocular
motility, amblyopia and binocular vision disorders
Assist ophthalmologists in surgery
Grinds and fits lenses prescribed by ophthalmologist or
Designs and fits artificial eyes (prostheses) and scleral
Information above compiled from the following websites:
Bill Nye Debunks Top Eye Myths
The Eye Digest
J. Northcott Page 10 August 2010
Common Eye Myths
Myths About Vision Loss
Myths & Old Wives’ Tales About Your Eyes
Vision Facts and Myths
10 Eye Myths
Fred’s Head from APH
Eye Care Professional
J. Northcott Page 11 August 2010