There are many myths and legends floating around about how to improve your eyesight. Although not all fiction, today we will look at popular stories and where they originated.
The most widely known myth is that eating carrots will help you see in the dark. This idea may have originated during World War 2 when Britain released a press statement stating that their pilots were eating lots of carrots to give them excellent night vision. The truth was, Britain was using radar to intercept the bombers at night. The public caught onto it, and even the German high command, and thus the myth was born. Carrots, although not able to give you incredible night vision, do play an important role in eye health. They are a great source of vitamin A that may help correct nyctalopia (night blindness) to a normal level, but unfortunately nothing beyond that.
Another popular myth, preached by mothers all over the world, is that sitting too close to the TV or reading in the dark will damage your eyesight. This was an easy way for parents to tell you to go to sleep! Although it may contribute to eye fatigue and tiredness (you can read our previous post about how to manage eye fatigue), there is no research to claim that it will damage your eyes.
Over the years, as a glasses wearer, I have been told that I should take off my glasses and ‘give my eyes a rest’ as the assumption was that wearing glasses deteriorates your vision. There is no clear evidence of this statement – glasses simply are an aid to help you see better, and do not alter the shape of your eyes or wear them down. What does make your eyesight worse is age or progression of eye conditions such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness – wearing glasses is simply not a contributor to deteriorating vision. Likewise, if you are wearing the wrong prescription, your eyes will not get used to it and get worse. The outcome will most likely be that you get headaches and feel dizzy but no physical change will happen to your eye.
A more worrying assumption some people may have is that having an eye exam is not necessary unless you are having problems with your vision. Eye care professionals suggest that you have your eye exam every one to two years, but more frequent checks may be required depending on individual factors. Routine eye checks can not only help you with the right prescription, but it can also prevent further eye loss and detect the early onset of eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy.
There are many more myths and legends about vision that are floating around, but if you are ever unsure of what the truth is, speak to your eye care professional who will help you figure out what is true or false.