Eye Care

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


9 Common Eye Myths Dispelled




#5: Certain types of light are better for your eyes than others.

False: People seem to be sensitive to certain types of lighting. Some claim that working under fluorescent lighting gives them eyestrain and headaches. Others claim that natural lighting is poor for reading. This is mostly based off of preference, as some people like more light and some like less. But it's very unlikely that people will have a real positive or negative physiological reaction to light, according to Dr. Hagan.

#6: Having a night-light on for infants or toddlers will make them near-sighted.

False: "This rumor was pretty controversial," says Dr. Kutryb. In the May 13, 1999 issue of the medical journal, Nature, University of Pennsylvania researchers raised concerns that the use of a night-light in the rooms of infants will make them five times more likely to develop myopia (near-sightedness) than infants left in a dark room. However, this notion has since been debunked thanks to a study in the May 2001 edition of Investigative Opthalmology and Visual Science. Scientists at Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University and the College of Optometry at the University of Houston assert that constant light does not cause near-sightedness in infants. There are many factors involved with vision development that children inherit, and some that are involved with how their eyes acclimate to their surroundings during the critical years of development. However, night-lights don't contribute to any vision problems, including near-sightedness.

#7: Anyone can benefit from Lasik eye surgery.

False: Lasik eye surgery, a type of vision correction procedure that uses specialized lasers to change the shape of the cornea, is only capable of correcting deficits in vision that are correctable with glasses. "If somebody has reduced vision due to macular degeneration (damage to the center of the pupil, an area critical for directing where the eyes should focus), detached retina, glaucoma or because of some other eye disease, Lasik won't do a thing," says Dr. Hagan. If a patient does qualify for Lasik treatment, usually vision can be corrected to 20/20 in only one session, though follow-up fine-tuning, called "enhancements," are necessary on occasion. Sometimes, the shape of a person's eye precludes them from Lasik. "We have patients with poor eye curvatures, and treating them with Lasik would not benefit them one bit," says Dr. Hagan.

#8: Carrots are good for your vision.

False: "Carrots are not the magic food for your eyes," says Dr. Hagan. "If I had to pick one magic food, eat spinach." While carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, most people are not deficient in beta-carotene; it's a nutrient that many foods (fortified, or not) have. "I'd rather people get more lutein," says Dr. Hagan. Lutein, a nutrient abundant in spinach, is a chemical substance that is important to macular health. Most Americans are lutein-deficient. The human body cannot make lutein (it also gets harder to absorb it as you age), so sufficient levels depend on diet. Other dark-colored veggies like asparagus and broccoli are also great natural source of lutein, as are egg yolks. Many multivitamins contain lutein, but the amount is too small to be useful. If you want to take lutein as a supplement, purchase it separately in amounts of 6 to 20 mg per day.

#9: 20/20 score is the best possible score you can get.

False: "Visual acuity is distributed like a typical bell shaped curve," says Dr. Hagan. "20/20 is at the top of the curve. But there are people on both sides of that." It is not unusual for people to have vision better than 20/20. Some are blessed with 20/15 and 20/10. Those are the pairs of eyes that the Air Force is looking for!

Shine-Ning Ni is a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Published April 20, 2011.

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