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Myths and realities of healthy vision
I remember as a kid walking around the house with my eyes closed, just to see what it would be like to be blind. It was kind of hilarious, especially when several of my siblings got involved in the game, and we stumbled around banging into each other and the furniture.
When one of my favorite characters in a beloved book became blind, I felt like it had happened to a good friend and I remember feeling devastated.
The prospect of becoming blind is anything but hilarious for anyone faced with that fate. I think I can safely say that most of us take our sight for granted most of the time, until we either receive a diagnosis of eye disease ourselves or know someone who is living with eye disease.
I know very little about the eye, really. As I educate myself, I’m afraid I am bringing my readers along with me. Let’s begin by looking at some common myths about our eyes and eyesight, compiled by the Prevent Blindness America organization.
Myth 1: Eating carrots will improve your vision.
For all the parents who use this “old mom’s tale” to get their kids to eat more veggies, sorry. While carrots do contain a substantial amount of vitamin A which is essential to good sight, the amount we really need is very small.
Myth 2: Sitting too close to the TV or watching for too long will damage our eyes.
There is no evidence to support this claim. Young children will sometimes sit closer to the TV or hold a book closer to their face because they can more easily focus on objects that are closer to them than adults can.
Often, children grow out of this. If a child continues to do this, it may be a sign of nearsightedness and the child should have an eye exam.
Myth 3: Reading without enough light can damage your eyes.
It may cause eye fatigue, but no damage will occur from this practice.
Myth 4: Failure to wear proper glasses will damage your eyes.
There is some truth to this one. Some children have eye issues that can be corrected if they wear their glasses all the time. For those who wear glasses to correct near- or farsightedness, not wearing them won’t make the condition worse.
Myth 5: Regular eye exams are only necessary if you are having trouble with your eyes or eyesight.
Everyone should have a regular schedule of eye examinations.
Myth 6: There is nothing you can do to prevent sight loss.
Regular eye exams and the proper and consistent use of safety eyewear can save your sight. Lifestyle habits that help prevent diabetes and the eye deterioration that goes along with it are an important choice for all of us to make.
Unfortunately, there are some conditions that are not easily treatable even if they are caught early.
After viewing an interesting but unsettling photography exhibit where every subject’s eyes were either obscured, absent or averted, I have a new appreciation for my eyes and how they allow me to live in this world.
Let’s all take care of our eyes. Unlike some other body parts, they are irreplaceable.
Pam Maxson is a health educator at Noyes Hospital in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 335-4327.