Eyes are underrated. They’re complex, sensitive, surprisingly strong, and we go about our days using them for everything and never even thinking of them.
But there’s a lot of misinformation about eye health out there, and it starts when we’re small. So, let’s take a look at four common myths about eye health, suss out the truth, and talk about what it actually takes to support healthy vision.
4 Common Eye Health Myths
1. Eating carrots help your eyesight.
This is the first thing many of us learn about eye health. From the time we’re kids, we’ve heard that carrots are good for vision — particularly night vision.
So is it true? Not exactly.
What is true is that beta carotene, the nutrient responsible for a carrot’s orange color, can be converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is a crucial component in enabling your eyes to process light correctly — in fact, Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to night blindness.
But the fact is, vitamin A deficiency is not super common, and while carrots can potentially help support healthy vision, eating them doesn’t improve your vision or prevent you from needing correcting lenses.
Don’t stop eating your veggies, though! Keep noshing on carrots, dairy, and other foodstuffs full of the good stuff, like vitamins A, C, and E to help support healthy visual function. And if you’re worried you’re not getting quite enough of the nutrients you need for healthy vision, you can look into taking a supplement like Pure Encapsulations’ Vision Pro.
2. You don’t need sunglasses if it’s not a sunny day.
So, this one’s not quite a common myth like some of the others, but it is a common line of thought: why wear sunglasses if it’s not sunny? I don’t like wearing sunglasses – I’d much rather wear a ball cap. And, on a cloudy day, it can just feel silly to keep your shades on.
But here’s the truth about this particular logic: If it’s light outside, damaging UV rays are present. If it’s cloudy or snowy, the UV rays are actually heightened from reflection. For the same reason that you still need sunscreen on an overcast day, you should still wear sunglasses if you plan to be outside for a while. The tissue of your eyes is very sensitive to the sun’s damaging UV rays — long term exposure can cause a number of serious issues:
- Macular degeneration
- Surfer’s eye/pterygium
- Skin cancers on or around the eye
3. A blue light filter for electronics helps protect your eyes.
You’ve no doubt heard about the dangers of blue light, including that it can cause permanent damage to your vision. Because of this, there’s been a recent surge in the popularity of digital filters and physical glasses to block blue light.
People tend to use blue light filters and blue light blocking glasses for two reasons: To prevent eye damage and to support a healthy sleep cycle. But do they make a difference?
Science says no.
First, there’s no hard evidence that blue light can actually damage the eye. Second, while you may want to use them to help keep your eyes from tiring so easily, studies show digital blue light filters are not effective at preventing eye strain. Third, research has recently found that warmer-toned screens may actually have the opposite effect than desired on circadian rhythms.
Surprising, isn’t it? The good news is, this is one of those situations where you should feel confident doing what makes you most comfortable. I keep my phone’s built-in blue light filter on because I enjoy the warmer tone on my screen.
There are many proven things you can do to help keep your eyes comfortable during prolonged screen time, though:
- Take frequent breaks, letting your eyes rest and refocus on items a few feet away
- Opt for softer screen contrast and good lighting — a bright screen in a dark room can be tough on your eyes.
- Blink more often and use rewetting drops as needed.
- Keep your lens prescription up to date — using an old prescription can lead to headaches. Don’t ask me how I know.
4. Reading in the dark and watching TV too close damages your eyes.
“Stop sitting too close to the TV — you’ll go blind.”
“Put that book down! It’s too dark. You’re going to hurt your eyes.”
Sound familiar? You probably know these myths from childhood, too. Were our parents right? No–but this is a great time to talk a little more about eye strain.
It’s true that watching a screen too closely and reading in dim light can tire your eyes, but it won’t cause permanent harm. Just like overtraining a muscle group by engaging in sports or going too hard in the gym, giving your eyes muscles an intense workout can leave them sore and tired. But it won’t make you go blind.
And, while eye strain symptoms are not usually long-term, they’re not pleasant:
- Dryness and itching
- Blurry vision or double vision
- Light sensitivity
- Difficulty focusing
Avoid these symptoms and protect your vision long-term by taking good care of your eyes with the tips in this post. And don’t forget to share the truth about these common vision myths whenever you hear them come up!