You’ve probably seen and heard your fair share of eye myths:
“Don’t cross your eyes-they’ll get stuck!”
“Don’t sit too close to the television-you’ll go blind!”
“Eat more carrots-you’ll have better night vision!”
And of course, you knew these myths were rubbish as soon as you heard them.
In general, many eye myths are harmless attempts to protect your vision or discourage bad habits. Concerned parents might pass on the myths simply to avoid awkward explanations to young children, or when they don’t have enough information to understand the facts themselves.
However, some eye myths can affect your health. And some myths can leave you feeling scared about harmless conditions or confused about treatments and procedures. Let’s take a look at some of these more serious myths about your eye health so you can see the truth behind the fears.
Myth 1: You Can “Feel” Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a disease associated with the buildup of pressure inside the eye. This increased pressure can damage the optic nerve, resulting in permanent vision loss if left untreated. In fact, it’s one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.
Many people assume that this pressure increase will be notable, that they’ll feel discomfort or pain as the condition worsens. But glaucoma develops slowly, so most people do not experience any symptoms until they have already lost a part of their vision.
Consequently, you should never neglect your annual eye exam. Your eye doctor can spot the condition long before you can, and he or she can then recommend ways to slow its progression and preserve more of your vision.
Myth 2: Pinkeye Is Always Contagious
Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, causes redness and swelling in the eye. Viral and bacterial pinkeye spreads easily, often through hand to-eye contact. Antibiotics can treat bacterial pink eye, but viral pinkeye has no treatment, so many adults worry about the condition being contagious.
However, pinkeye has multiple causes. Dry eyes from wind and sun exposure, chemicals and fumes, and even allergies can irritate the eyes, resulting in inflammation and swelling. These symptoms typically improve after reducing exposure to these irritants.
Since it’s not always easy for individuals to tell the difference between viral infections and irritated eyes, you should err on the side of caution and take preventative measures to keep the condition in check. Encourage children to wash their hands often, and avoid reusing towels or washcloths that may have touched infected eyes.
Myth 3: Doctors Can Remove Cataracts with Lasers
Due to its success for correcting vision, laser surgery (such as Lasik and IOL procedures) generate a lot of exciting myths and rumors. Some individuals mistakenly believe that laser surgery can correct a variety of eye conditions, including removing cataracts.
Although laser surgery has made a lot of advances in the last few years, it cannot remove the cataract from the eye, but it can make the surgery a little smoother.
During cataract surgery, surgeons use the laser to make small incisions in the eye and to soften the cataract before removal. From there, the surgeon will use an ultrasound instrument and a vibrating needle to break up the cataracts, then a vacuum to remove the pieces.
Myth 4: Doctors Can Transplant Eyes
In addition to laser surgery, doctors and surgeons have made great advances in transplant procedures. Currently, professionals can transplant various parts of the eye, including the cornea, eyelashes, amniotic membranes, eyelids, and tear ducts.
However, surgeons have no way to transplant the whole eye. Thesis because the eye connects to the brain via the optic nerve. This nerve consists of more than one million tiny nerve fibers, and once cut, they cannot be reconnected.
Not yet anyway.
Plenty of researchers are exploring ways to regenerate and regrow the optic nerve. Some animals have the ability to regrow fibers after optic nerve injury, and experts hope they can harness that ability in the future. Furthermore, scientists have met with some success regenerating retinal ganglion cells in a lab setting.
Myth 5: Performing Eye Exercises Will Improve Your Vision
Many people hate the idea of wearing glasses or contacts to correct their vision. Some feel uncomfortable wearing heavy frames while others fear putting the lenses in their eyes. Because of this, many individuals seek alternative methods for improving vision, and one of the most popular techniques includes eye exercises.
In theory, eye exercises strengthen the muscles your eyes need to focus, and they improve blood flow to the eye.
However, your vision depends on a variety of factors, including the shape of your eyes and the health of your eye tissues. And these factors have little to do with the muscles in your eyes.
Although some patients benefit from natural vision correction, the American Optometric Association and American Academy of Ophthalmology states that we have no scientific evidence supporting these methods.
Don’t Stay in the Dark
These are just a few eye health myths that may affect how you see the world. Before you fall for another myth or rumor regarding your eyes, do a little research-your eyes will thank you for it.