Fact or Fiction: Common Eye Myths Debunked

Does eating carrots really improve vision? Can excessive computer use cause permanent damage to your vision? Here are a few truths and myths commonly encountered by eye care professionals.

Eating carrots can improve visual functioning: FICTION (mostly) 

The Allied fighter pilots in WWII believed carrots improved night vision, making it easier for them to target enemies in the dead of night. While carrots do contain beta-carotene (Vitamin A)—a very important component of the visual pathway—unless an individual is heavily deficient in vitamin A, munching on all the carrots in the world will not help improve vision. That being said, there are foods high in Lutein such as broccoli, spinach and kale, which can be beneficial in the prevention of certain eye diseases including macular degeneration. Found in fish, Omega-3’s have also been shown to help with the prevention of macular degeneration and help people who suffer from dry eye disease.

Excessive computer use can cause degradation in vision: FACT 

Although it won’t cause a permanent decrease in vision, excessive computer use can cause the eyes to dry out leading to a temporary blurring of vision. We tend to blink 50 per cent less when looking at a computer screen or cell phone. This reduction in blink rate can cause a degradation in the tear film that normally coats the front surface of the eye which can in turn cause temporary blurring of vision. Remembering to blink and using artificial tears can help to reduce dry eye symptoms related to computer use.

Children don’t need an eye exam if their vision seems fine: FICTION

Studies show that one in four children have an eye disorder that can interfere with learning and development. Even though a child may be able to see 20/20, there are many other eye conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye) that need to be addressed at an early age to reduce the likelihood of permanent vision loss in the future. Eighty per cent of learning done by children is visual which is why it is so important for them to have an eye exam at least before they start junior kindergarten.

Eye Exercises can improve vision and reduce the need for glasses: FICTION (mostly) 

This is a common eye myths encountered by optometrists. Eye exercises, otherwise known as ‘vision training’ can help alleviate some binocular vision issues, but only in individuals with pre-existing eye conditions. For individuals with otherwise healthy eyes, eye exercises will not reduce the need for glasses in the future.

Optometrists in Ontario can prescribe medications for the treatment of ocular diseases: FACT 

Certified optometrists in Ontario are specifically trained and have the tools to prescribe and treat many ocular diseases such as eye infections, dry eye, pink eye and glaucoma. They also work closely with general physicians and ophthalmologists to provide comprehensive eye care.

By John-Paul Muggeridge and Dr. Thomas-A. Noël