vision myths
Self Care

Vision myths debunked by doctors

Can eye exercises improve your vision? It is one of the myths that’s being circulated in online. Find out more vision myths and truths.

20/20 means you have perfect vision

A lot of people think 20/20 means perfect vision, but there is so much to vision beyond just reading the eye chart and reading down to 20/20. And when we say 20/20 vision, it means that this chart is at 20 feet away from the patient and they can read all the way down to 8th line. There are other lines below that. Some people can actually read even better than 20/20.

But there are so many other components of vision. For example, there’s color vision, there’s peripheral vision, there’s contrast.

Blue light will damage my eyes

Back in 2018, there was a study that came out that the media picked up on, and they said, “Oh, blue light is going to damage your retina. It’s going to cause permanent blindness.” What the researchers did in this study was they took cells, they put them in a petri dish, and they exposed those cells to high, high levels of blue light, and they found out that those cells died.

The truth is that the cells that they put in that petri dish were not even eye cells. They were cervical cancer cells. So, our retina cells have pigments that protect us against blue light. They’re called lutein and zeaxanthin. They’re like our natural blue blockers, and they protect our eyes against blue light.

So there is no proof that blue light damages your eyes. And if it were really true, we would actually have a pandemic of blindness because all of us are on devices all the time, children, adults, and it’s just not true. We do know that it affects our sleep and it does cause insomnia because it changes our circadian rhythm.

So when you wear a blue-light coating on your glasses, it does help with light sensitivity and glare and just generally making you feel more comfortable when you’re doing work. So there is no downside to it. The tint does make a difference,
because if you put on the lighter-tint blue blockers and if you look at your screen. If you can still see the color blue, it means that that blue blocker’s not blocking out 100% of the blue light.

Maybe it’s blocking out a certain lower percentage, maybe 30% to 40%, versus if you put on these, these are the super-duper blue blockers.

You will lose your vision as you age

There are people who are older in 60s, 70s, 80s, even 90-year-old who still have 20/20 vision. That’s absolutely normal. That’s not losing your vision. It’s just that our vision starts to change in the other direction sometimes. So, when we’re referring to presbyopia, that is the gradual change when our eyes are not able to accommodate or focus on near objects as well, and we tend to hold things further back.

It’s because inside the eye, we have a lens. Now, normally the lens is very flexible, and it can change shape. Sometimes it can get thicker or thinner in the middle. That allows us to focus at different distances. As we get older, though,
this lens just doesn’t change shape as well. It becomes more stiff. And when it becomes more stiff, that is called loss of accommodation, or presbyopia.

And, again, that usually happens to most people sometime in their 40s or 50s. We also notice that over time, our eyes start to improve as we get older. It has to do with the fact that as we grow, our eyes elongate, and that can lead to myopia, or nearsightedness, and over time, just like our body can shrink, our eyes can shrink shorter, and that can lead our prescription to go the opposite way.

There’s lots that can go wrong, but as long as you see your eye doctor regularly, you get checked for it, you get it taken care of, you can still maintain good 20/20 vision into your golden years.

LASIK means no glasses forever

There is no guarantee with any kind of procedure that your vision will be what you hope it to be. LASIK is just resetting your prescription back to zero. So LASIK can provide sharp, clear vision, but that doesn’t mean it can prevent myopia regression or the need for reading glasses. Sometimes there can be regression, which means that after six months or a year, the cornea may start to change back into its natural shape. For the most part, it is very, very safe, but just make sure you talk to your surgeon about it first to make sure that you’re a good candidate, because not everyone is a good candidate.

LASIK means Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis. Eye surgery that corrects/improves vision by reshaping the clear covering on the front of the eye (cornea).

Color blindness equals seeing in black and white

A lot of people think that if you have color blindness, that’s all you’re going to see, is, like, monochrome, but it’s not true. Most people who have color blindness,
or what we call color deficiency, have issues with seeing different shades of reds and greens and sometimes also oranges and yellows. It’s not that they can’t see those colors, they just see those colors differently. So, we have cells in our retinas called photoreceptors. The rods are responsible for light and dark vision.

The cones are responsible for color vision. So we have red cones, green cones, and blue cones, and these cones are all tuned in to certain wavelengths. So in people who are color-blind, it’s not that they don’t have those cones. It’s just that those cones are set to a different wavelength. So instead of seeing a red as bright red, they may see it kind of as a muted color or maybe as, like, an orange or yellow.

Actually, it’s pretty common in the population to have color blindness. If you go to the eye doctor, they can do a color test on you. It shows you numbers within patterns of color, and it tests the intensity, or density, of how much color blindness there is over a spectrum. But it really doesn’t impact someone’s life at all. People with color blindness function completely normally, and there is no long-term issue with that.

Eye exercises will improve your vision

This is a myth. So, there is just so much misinformation out there when it comes to eye exercises. Many people think that if they do certain exercises, that will help them decrease their myopia or their hyperopia or their astigmatism. But there is no truth to that. Our eyes are shaped in a certain way, our corneas are shaped a certain way, the length of the eye is a certain way, and what you do in terms of exercises will not change that.

So it is probably one of the biggest myths out there.

You may have heard of the 20/20/20 rule, which is every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. And really, the whole goal of that is just to allow your eyes to relax off into the distance. So that does help relieve a little of that strain, but it certainly isn’t something that corrects for your vision.

There is one condition where eye exercises can help. It’s a condition called convergence insufficiency, where if we’re looking at something up close for a long time, the eyes get fatigued. They start to drift out a little bit. So, there is one exercise called pencil push-ups where people can help strengthen those muscles and help them focus longer and not feel that fatigue.

Maybe it’ll prevent them from seeing double, but it won’t actually change the power
or the refraction of the eye. The best way to improve your vision is simply to go to the eye doctor, find out what the issue is, and get it taken care of.

Wearing glasses will make your vision worse

The truth is, no. What happens is, when people are seeing blurry, they wear their glasses and then they see clearly, but then they take their glasses off. All of a sudden they’re seeing blurry again. Wearing them or not wearing them does not cause progression. The change has more to do with genetics and just natural axial elongation of your eyeball. So if your eye doctor thinks you need glasses or contacts and prescribes them for you, it’s for your benefit. It will help you see better, so please wear them.

Dry eyes aren’t very serious

Most of the time, dry eyes might not be serious, but it could cause potential issues that lead to scarring on the cornea. In fact, children are experiencing it at a much younger age. Statistically speaking, about 125 million people ages 18 to 50 experience dryness, but they don’t report it or do anything for it. So, if you can imagine, when we are looking at our phones or reading a book, we tend to just stare, and that means our blink rate decreases by at least a half.

So we lose our blink completeness, and over time, our tears can evaporate much, much quicker. But when you go see your eye doctor, usually they’ll use different dyes or colored strips that can help to stain the cornea to see exactly how much dryness you have and where the dryness is. And there are actually ways to also image the glands. The truth is, you really need to use the drops very often. It’s not just once a day. You need to use them multiple times during the day.

Dry eye’s like dry skin, so lubricate frequently. It’s OK to get generic as long as you look at the ingredients and there’s no ingredient called polyvinyl alcohol. If you see anything with alcohol in there, please don’t buy it, because that can actually irritate your eyes even more. It’s not fully pH balanced to your eye. It could actually make things worse.

In most cases, dry eyes are not serious, but sometimes they can be, so don’t let it get to that level where it becomes serious.

If you sneeze with your eyes open, they’ll pop out

It’s a Myth. There’s a certain condition that can cause proptosis, which is the bulging of the eyes, though it’s rare. It just has to do with the elasticity of the lid itself. If you have more relaxed lids, and the eyes, when you sneeze, it can pop out a bit. But certainly, they don’t fall out. You don’t have to search for them on the floor or anything like that. We actually have, in our eye socket, it’s a really intricate network of muscles and connective tissue that keep the eye in its place.

There are six eye muscles behind each eye. These eye muscles are connected to the back of the eye socket. They hold everything in place. So there is no way that the eye could actually come out of the eye socket. Our eyes actually automatically close when we sneeze as a natural reflex, and it has to do with our body’s way to really expel what it thinks is an issue or bacteria. So it’s probably impossible to sneeze with your eyes open, so just let your body do its thing.

Contact lenses can get lost behind your eye

Definitely a myth, because you have a protective barrier called the conjunctiva. It’s to prevent things from getting dislodged back there. All you really have to do is just make sure you blink a few times, put in some artificial tears to get that contact lens to loosen up, and, eventually, it should come out and you should be able to find it and pull it out of the eye. Most of the time, patients just actually rub their eyes and the contact lens falls out, and they think that it’s still back in the eye.

Sunglasses aren’t necessary

Myth. Total myth. You do need sunglasses, because we always want to protect our retina and our macula, our lens, and our cornea. Honestly, they make you look fashionable and cool while protecting your eyes at the same time. We are constantly exposed to sunlight exposure, even on cloudy days. And when that happens, even though the progression might be slow, it can put our eyes at risk in the future for other issues or long-term consequences.

The UVA and UVB rays are so powerful, they can burn your cornea, they can burn your retina, they can lead to growths on the surface of the eye. They can even lead to eye cancers or eyelid cancers. Here are some tips for sunglasses. All sunglasses are not made the same. Darker does not always mean better, so you want to make sure the label says “100% UVA, UVB protection,” or it might say, “Absorption up to 400 nanometers.”

You also want to make sure that you go for oversized or even one that wraps around, because you actually are constantly exposed to sunlight from top and from the sides. Things like polarized lens doesn’t always equal more UV protection. Same thing like mirror lenses or tinted lenses. They can cut the glare, especially if you’re skiing or out in the water, snowboarding. But you want to get the UV protection in addition to the polarization or the tint.

Floaters are always harmless

Floaters are actually very, very common, but they’re not always harmless. There are a lot of different structures inside the eye, but this structure here, it’s clear plastic, but inside the eye, it’s actually a jelly called the vitreous that helps to keep the shape of the eye so it doesn’t just collapse. But this jelly is made out of lots of different things, water and collagen and hyaluronic acid. As we get older, the jelly, instead of being firm it starts to break down.

And when it breaks down into more of a liquid form, we start to see little pieces of collagen floating around inside of it, and these little pieces of collagen, when light comes in through the front of the eye, it hits those little collagen strands and creates a shadow on the retina, and that’s what we see as a floater.

Two blue-eyed parents can’t have a brown-eyed kid

Genetics is a complicated topic, and even though you think that blue eyes are recessive and if you have two blue-eyed parents they’re guaranteed to have a blue-eyed child, it’s not always the case. There’s a particular gene called OCA2. It helps determine if someone’s eye color’s going to be brown or blue, but there are different ways the gene expresses itself. So sometimes the gene is truly dominant,
but sometimes only partially dominant. So, there’s a lot that goes into determining a baby’s eye color, but definitely it is possible, not common, but it is possible for two blue-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child.

And also, babies, when they’re born, they tend to have lighter eye color. And then usually over the first couple of years of life, usually by the age of 2, that color may darken to its ultimate final colors. The pigment migrates into the iris. Sometimes it takes a while for that pigment to fully migrate and then fully kind of settle.

You use your eyes when you first wake up to when you go to sleep, so you want to protect it by making sure you wear sunglasses, keep your eyes lubricated, and to wear your correction. And so definitely start early, you know, eat healthy, exercise, see your eye doctor. If you do all these things, you can hopefully maintain healthy vision for a lifetime. You want to be proactive about it and prevent it from happening.

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