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4 vision myths that aren’t all bunk

Posted on 2015/03/20 at 2:26 pm by Galit G

Even though your eyesight is probably your most important sense in everyday life, there’s a startling amount of misinformation surrounding what makes good vision. Some believe that it’s all genetic and your actions don’t impact your eyesight, while others proclaim that shoveling down carrots before, during and after meals gives them night vision like a cat.

Obviously, these grandiose claims are based more in superstition than fact, but that doesn’t stop people from believing in them. Odds are you’re not totally sold on every vision myth you hear either way, which is why it’s important to know which are fact and which are fiction. Along with a healthy lifestyle, figuring out what’s really going on behind your eyelids is one of the best ways to keep your vision at a high enough level that you’re a good candidate for a LASIK procedure.

1. Wearing glasses with the wrong prescription will hurt your eyes.
It’s easy to see where this myth comes from. If you don’t need to wear glasses or you have a weak prescription, using a strong one for an extended period of time can leave you with a splitting headache. But does this really have anything to do with permanent changes to your vision?

The answer is no. All glasses do is bend the light from the outside world as it enters your eye – they don’t affect anything about its internal structures. The headache that people often develop is from your brain struggling to process the altered image, not from any actual changes to how your eye works.

However, certain conditions like strabismus (crossed eyes) or amblyopia (lazy eye) require specialized eyewear that does physically change the eyes. These don’t look like normal glasses, though, so you’d know if wearing them was causing your vision problems.

2. Perfect vision is 20/20.
Who knows where this myth came from? Some believe that it became popular during World War II, when fighter pilots were selected based on visual acuity. Whatever the reason, the phrase “20/20 vision” has become synonymous with perfect eyesight. But is it true?

Again – no. 20/20 vision is less an indication of flawless vision than a measurement that experts agree is good enough not to warrant any medical interventions. On a boilerplate level, 20/20 describes vision as a relative measurement. A person with 20/20 eyesight can see an object from 20 feet away with the same clarity as someone with normal vision. Someone with 20/100 vision can see things from 20 feet away that someone with 20/20 could see from a fifth of that distance.

Since 20/20 isn’t “perfect” vision per se, that also means you could actually experience eyesight that’s better than 20/20. This is usually either due to good genes or medical procedures like LASIK, which can improve vision past 20/20 in as little as a few days.

3. You inherit your parents’ eyesight.
Most myths blend fact and fiction together in one seamless package, and this one might be a perfect example of that. After all, most physical attributes are determined by genetics, so why wouldn’t it be true that two parents who need glasses have children who do, too?

According to ABC News, it’s because not all visual impairments are caused by genetics. Some, like glaucoma, are entirely dictated by your parents, but others, including many refractive errors that can be addressed by laser vision correction, are a result of the daily stresses you put on your eye. Then there are conditions like cataracts, which are almost entirely determined by age-related issues and not by genetics.

4. Staring into the sun can damage your eyes.
Every kid has heard this one shouted at them while playing in the backyard, and anecdotal evidence seems to support it – after staring at the sun or any other bright light source for more than a few seconds can leave you bleary-eyed and wondering what made you do that. But is it true?

Unlike the other myths on this list, this one is actually fact. Staring directly into the sun can lead to solar retinopathy, a condition characterized by ultraviolet radiation damage to the retina. If you avert your gaze within a few seconds, your eyesight should return to normal presently, but intense bursts of light can lead to temporary or permanent blindness if you’re not careful. Most cases clear themselves up within a month, though some cases have been known to last for more than a year. That makes sunglasses a little more appealing, doesn’t it?

The eye is an incredibly complex organ, which means there are so many things that can go wrong to leave you with poor vision. However, if you’re otherwise healthy and have a day to improve your eyesight for the rest of your life, a custom LASIK procedure might be just what you and your eyes need. Don’t hesitate another second to enjoy life with better eyesight than you thought possible.

Do you have a question about LASIK? Ask one of our experts!

Also available in/Également disponible en : French

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