Eyes: The Facts And The Fiction

The World Health Organisation states that 80% of the world’s blindness and serious visual impairment is preventable. There are certainly many myths and home-remedies about how to do just that. In fact, everybody has an idea about what is good or bad for your eyes but what is the truth behind it all? Here are some of the best-loved eye-related claims and the truth on the matter.

1. “Sitting too close to the TV will make you short-sighted

False – Sitting too close to the television may well give you headaches, fatigue or dry-eyes but it won’t have any adverse affect on your vision. This applies to reading in low-level light and using the computer for long periods too. So sit browsing your favourite sites for as long as you like, just make sure you take plenty of screen breaks to replenish your eyes and stay fresh.

2. “Don’t cross your eyes or they’ll stay that way!”

False – Your eyes won’t stay crossed any more than your face will stay the same when the wind changes. However, if your child is crossing one eye regularly, you should visit your GP. There may be a problem that won’t get better on its own and is more easily corrected in young children.

3. “Wearing your glasses all the time will make you vision worse”

False – Assuming that your current prescription is correct, wearing your glasses will not cause your vision to worsen or become dependent. However, your prescription may need strengthening due to ageing or disease.

4. “Looking directly at the sun will make you go blind”

True – Not only will looking directly at the sun give you headaches and temporary affected vision but it can cause permanent damage. The cumulative effects of ultra-violet (UV) radiation is linked to macular degeneration, solar retinitis and corneal dystrophies. So avoid looking at the sun, even when it seems to be hiding, and always wear UV-protected sun-glasses on sunny days – even if they do seem so few and far-between!

5. “There is nothing you can do to prevent loss of vision”

True and False – There may be nothing you can do to prevent eventual age-related vision loss but there are certainly ways to protect your vision for as long as possible, such as keeping your eyes clean and eating a balanced diet. However, not all vision impairment is age-related and many eye disorders can be prevented and treated. See an optician as soon as your vision starts to deteriorate for more information on your particular vision loss.

6. “Carrots will make you see in the dark”

True – Carrots have high levels of beta-carotene, or vitamin A, which can help protect against age-related degeneration and reduce the chances of developing cataracts. Also, beta-carotene is the main proponent in the development of retinol, which is an essential chemical for vision in dim light. So whilst you won’t get any night-vision goggles, eating your carrots will definitely help.

7. “Eyes are full size at birth”

False – Babies would be terrifying if their eyes were as big as an adult’s! At birth, eyes are in proportion to the rest of the body and eye growth can account for vision improvement as children develop.

8. “Eye transplants are possible”

False – Transplants are only possible for parts of the eye, such as the cornea. Alas, any Minority Report style identity changes are out of the question – for now, at least.

9. “If you have bad eyes, your kids will too”

True – Unfortunately, your children are likely to have the same sorts of eye-related problems as you, even with developed conditions such as cataracts. Good diet and hygiene can withhold them for as long as possible.

10. “Only boys are colour-blind”

False – Despite popular belief, it is not only boys who are colour-blind, although the odds are not in their favour. Around eight per cent of boys suffer from the condition, compared to just one per cent of girls.

11. “Two blue-eyed parents can’t have a brown-eyed child and vice versa”

False – Whilst it is rare, it is possible for a child to have different coloured eyes to their parents.

12. “Rubbing a gold ring on your eye will get rid of styes”

False – A stye is a painful lump that develops at the base of the eyelashes, as a result of built up dirt, sweat and debris (make-up is often the cause). Many say that rubbing it with a gold ring will cure it but there is little evidence to suggest that is true. The cool feeling may soothe the discomfort but won’t actually eradicate it. Keep the area clean and the stye should clear up. If symptoms persist, visit your doctor.