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Sponsored feature: Top ten myths about eye health

Debunking those commonly held beliefs about eye-care ...

Test Yourself To See How Much You Know About Eyes

1. MYTH: Eating carrots will improve your vision.

FACT: Although it’s true that carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is important for a healthy diet and essential for sight, so are many other foods including asparagus, apricots, nectarines and milk. A well-balanced diet can provide the vitamin A needed for good vision, however eating carrots, even extraordinarily large quantities of carrots, will not improve your vision, says the Association of Optometrists Ireland.

2. MYTH: Sitting too close to the television will hurt your eyes.

FACT: There is no evidence that sitting close to the television will cause permanent damage to your eyes. However experts say that that children can actually focus up close without eyestrain better than adults, so they often develop the habit of sitting right in front of the television or holding reading material close to their eyes. Sitting close to a TV may be a sign of nearsightedness though – you need to sit close to the TV so that you can see the picture more clearly.

3. MYTH: Reading in dim light will damage your eyes.

FACT: Reading in dim light can cause your eyes to become tired, but cannot cause permanent eye damage. It is true that reading in a well-lit room will prevent eye fatigue. Good lighting does make reading easier and can prevent eye fatigue.

4. MYTH: If you cross your eyes, they will stay like that.

FACT: Crossing your eyes for amusement will not affect your eye placement long term. When we focus up close, our eyes naturally come together, so when you cross your eyes you are just exaggerating this natural response. Contrary to the old saying, eyes will not stay that way if you cross them. If your child is crossing one eye constantly, schedule an evaluation by an ophthalmologist.

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5. MYTH: Children will outgrow crossed or misaligned eyes.

FACT: Children do not outgrow crossed eyes. This is a serious myth that needs to be clarified. Crossed eyes (a condition called strabismus) or misaligned eyes (a condition called amblyopia, or poor vision in one eye), will not be outgrown. Unless it is forced to do the work, the misaligned eye will not develop proper vision. Crossed or misaligned eyes can be straightened by using early patching, glasses, eye drops or surgery and the sooner that treatment begins, the better. A child whose eyes are misaligned may develop poor vision in one eye because the brain will “turn off” or ignore the image from the misaligned or lazy eye. The unused or misaligned eye will not develop good vision unless it is forced to work, usually by patching the stronger eye. Children who appear to have misaligned eyes should be examined as early as possible by a professional.

6. MYTH: Wearing glasses all the time will make you so dependent on them that you will see poorly without them.

FACT: Wearing spectacles will not make your eyes worse. Some refractive errors will worsen as you age, but wearing glasses is never the cause. Also, if you are used to clear vision when you wear your glasses, it will seem like your eyes are worse when you take them off.

7. MYTH: Using computers can damage your eyes.

FACT: Working on computers will not harm your eyes. Often, when using a computer for long periods of time, just as when reading or doing other close work, you blink less often than normal. This reduced rate of blinking makes your eyes dry, which may lead to the feeling of eyestrain or fatigue. Optometrists advise that users should try to take regular breaks to look up or across the room. Keep the monitor between 18 to 24 inches from your face and at a slightly downward angle. If your vision blurs or your eyes tire easily, you should have your eyes examined.

8. MYTH: Wearing someone else’s glasses can cause damage to your eyes.

FACT: Although correct eyeglasses or contacts help you to see clearly, wearing a pair with the wrong lenses, or not wearing glasses at all, will not physically damage your eyes. However, children less than eight years old who need eyeglasses should wear their own prescription to prevent the possibility of developing amblyopia or “lazy eye.”

9. Looking straight at the sun will damage your sight

FACT: Looking at the sun may not only cause a headache and distort your vision temporarily, but it can also cause permanent eye damage. Any exposure to sunlight adds to the cumulative effects of ultraviolet radiation on your eyes. UV exposure has been linked to eye disorders such as macular degeneration, solar retinitis, and corneal dystrophies.

10. There's nothing you can do to prevent vision loss

FACT: At the very first signs of vision loss, such as blurred vision or flashes of light, you should see your doctor. If detected early enough, depending on the cause, there are treatments that can correct, stop, or slow down the loss of vision.