Eye Care Facts & Myths

We have all been told by someone, at some time, "You'll hurt your eyes if you do that!" But do you know what is or is not good for your eyes? Test yourself with the following "True" or "False" statements and see how much you know about your eyes.

Reading in dim light is harmful to your eyes.

FALSE--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 prevents eye fatigue, especially for people who wear bifocals.

Using computers can damage your eyes.

FALSE--Working on computers will not harm your eyes. Often, when using a computer 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 and consider the use of artificial tears. Looking at objects farther away usually relieves the strain on your eyes. Keep the monitor between 18-24 inches from your face, and at a very slight downward angle. If your vision blurs or your eyes tire easily, you should hae your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist.

Wearing the wrong kind of glasses hurts your eyes.

FALSE--Eyeglasses are devices to improve your vision. Although correct glasses 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 amblyopia or "lazy eye."

Children outgrow crossed or misaligned eyes.

FALSE--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 stronger eye.

Children who appear to have misaligned eyes should be examined by an ophthalmologist. In general, the earlier the misaligned eyes are treated, the better. Treatment may include patching, glasses, eyedrops, or surgery.

Sitting close to the television can damage children's eyes.

FALSE--Children can focus up close without eyestrain better than adults. They often develop the habit of holding reading material close to their eyes or sitting right in front of the television. There is no evidence that this damages their eyes, and the habit usually diminishes as children grow older. Children with nearsightedness (myopia) sometimes sit close to the television in order to see the images more clearly.

Wearing glasses will cause you to become dependent on them.

FALSE--Glasses are used to correct blurry vision. Since clear vision with glasses is preferable to uncorrected vision, you may find that you want to wear your glasses more often. Although it may feel as if you are becoming dependent on your glasses, you are actually just getting used to seeing clearly.

Older people who gain "second sight" may be developing cataracts.

TRUE--Older individuals who wear reading glasses sometimes find themselves able to read without their glasses and think their eyesight is improving. The truth is they are becoming more nearsighted, which can be a sign of early cataract development.

All "eye doctors" are the same.

FALSE--An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD or DO) with special training and skills to diagnose and treat all diseases of the eye. To become an ophthalmologist requires a minimum of eight years of medical school and hospital training after college. An ophthalmologist is qualified to provide all aspects of eye care, including cataract, laser and other eye surgery.

Optometrists and opticians are other types of eye care professionals. They are trained and licensed to provide some aspects of eye care, but are not medical doctors and have not attended medical school and residency training. They cannot prescribe all medications or perform all types of eye surgery.