I was approximately 14 years old when it happened. I was living in Germany at the time and my mother and I were leaving the store. It was a very cold day. Cold enough you could see your breath formed words if you tried to speak. Shuffling over the black ice to our car, we passed the movie theater when my mom asked me what was playing. I looked up and said, “I don’t know.” She looked at me in astonishment, “What do you mean? Can’t you see the title in big block red letters?” I squinted. I squinted harder. I couldn’t make out the words…
Of our five senses, vision is considered the most important. It is how we navigate and interpret our environments, and it is the one we often take for granted until it’s gone.
Did you sit too close to the television as a child? Did you reluctantly eat all your carrots because you were told they’d give you good vision?
Well it turns out these may just be myths! Now before you go back to sitting in front of the television, let’s review the top three vision myths:
Myth: Don’t sit too close to the T.V., you’ll ruin your eyes!
- According to preventblindness.org, “There is no evidence to suggest that watching television for too long or sitting too close can damage your eyes.” In fact, children often sit close to focus on the details in the image. It is like their mini IMAX theater experience.
Myth: Reading in poor lighting harms your eyes.
- Similar to a camera, our pupils naturally dilate to allow more light in. However, reading in low light may cause fatigue and headaches due to the strain on the eye muscles.
Myth: Eat your carrots for better vision.
- According to VSP Vision Care and Prevent Blindness.org, eating carrots will not improve or change vision. Yes, you can put down the 1lb bag!
So now that I can stop buying carrots by the truck load, what can or should I do for my eyes?
1. Annual eye exams with your doctor.
Eye exams are important, especially if you currently wear prescriptive lenses.
2. I wear my suuunglassesss…
It is possible to sunburn your eyes – your eye balls! Damage to our eyes can occur from reflecting light from the snow, sand, water and pavement. One of my running partners told me about her experience this past June. She was running the Rock N Roll San Diego marathon when she sunburned her ojos! Although she was wearing a running cap, she wasn’t wearing sunglasses. The light reflected from the pavement, off the light colored brim of her hat to her lower eyes.
A cap helps keep sweat from getting in your eyes and provides shade for your face; however, you still need sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging rays.
3. A healthy diet.
While eating carrots may not necessarily change my near sightedness to 20/20 vision, they may help prevent degradation and maintain eye health.
Specifically, beta carotene (a form of vitamin A) is important for eye health. However, the amount we need is very small.
Carotenoids is the term used to describe yellow, orange and red pigments found in foods. They work with vitamins C and E as antioxidants to protect our bodies against free radicals.
Carotenoids and the eye
Carotenoids found in dark leafy green vegetables such as Swiss Chard and spinach may help prevent eye related problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
…I do not recall the movie on the marquee at the time. However, I do remember my first pair of glasses — big round circles! They felt awkward and I definitely feared being called names.
I did sit too close to the t.v. and read scores of books under my covers with a flashlight. At least now I know that those activities are not necessarily responsible for my near sightedness, and I can lay off the carrots.
August is National Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. To find out more about common eye problems affecting children and adults please visit their website.