Eyecare Myths Debunked, Getting the Facts Straight

As an optometrist, there are several questions I hear pretty often. Questions that some may consider myths, while others deem them as fact. Today, I’m going to set the record straight. I’ve narrowed down the questions to the top five based on how often the question is asked or because some people are too embarrassed to ask.

  1. Wearing glasses will make your eyes weaker. I’m asked this question almost daily, mostly by patients over 40, wondering whether their reading glasses are making their vision worse. The simple answer to this question is no, glasses do not ruin your vision. People often forget that every day you get a little older, and as your eyes get older it becomes harder to get by without a proper prescription.
  2. Smoking marijuana is good for glaucoma. Yes, marijuana can lower the intraocular pressures of the eyes, which is helpful in decreasing the progression of an eye disease called glaucoma. However, the amount needed would essentially make you non-functional since you would have to smoke constantly throughout the day. Your optometrist can prescribe once daily eye drops that are more effective at lowering the pressures in the eye without the added risk of smoking at all.
  3. Contact lenses can roll behind the eye into the brain and get stuck. This question will inevitably come up while I’m bending at odd angles trying to find a “lost” contact lens in a patient’s eye. No, the contact lens has nowhere to go and will not roll into the brain. There’s a thin tissue covering the front of the eyeball and the inner eyelid that keeps the lens in front of the eye. Sometimes, contacts can slide off to the side of the eye but this tissue prevents it from going any further back.

    Picture courtesy of I.gence on Flickr

    Picture courtesy of I.gence on Flickr

  4. Eating certain foods will improve my vision. Contrary to popular belief, carrots are not the best food for your eyes (spinach is more like it). Eating a variety of antioxidant-rich foods can protect your eyes from various eye diseases, thereby preserving one’s vision at its current state. I could write a full article on this topic but to put it simply, just add some fish, nuts, whole grains and colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet for the health of your eyes and your body.
  5. Reading in the dark and watching TV or video games too long can make your vision worse. None of these have been proven to cause poor vision, however they can all cause eyestrain and/or dryness of the eyes. Eyestrain can occur if you aren’t reading or watching television under ideal circumstances or for very long periods of time, but that should not cause your vision to decrease. Proper ergonomics such as bright illumination, a working distance of approximately 16 inches, proper head and neck positioning and taking breaks to allow your eyes relax can help keep eyestrain to a minimum.

I’ve only addressed five common eyecare myths today, although there are plenty more. If you would like the answers to more in a future article, please comment below.

~Cindy P. Wang, O.D., F.A.A.O.

California Optometric Association, Communications Chair

South Pasadena Optometric Group