You’ve been hearing it since you were a kid: ”Eat carrots for better eyesight. Don’t look at screens for too long. Don’t read in in the dark….It’s bad for your eyes!” But how true are these statements? Are they as impactful on your eyesight as they say? There are a lot of claims concerning eye health and eyesight generally accepted as facts, and for the most part, we don’t question them since they’re taught to us at a young age. Well, it’s time to get to the bottom of it and dispel the rumors we’ve believed about our eyes for so long.
“Eat your carrots for better eyesight.”
Probably the most popular rumor on this list, almost everyone had their mom tell them to eat carrots so they would have better eyesight. It was probably ingrained in your mind for as long as you can remember. Unfortunately, it’s wrong.
Carrots definitely aren’t bad for your eyes, but they don’t improve your eyesight either. There’s no research or study proving better eyesight after eating lots of carrots. What they definitely do, though, is offer your eyes a good helping of beta-carotene
, which converts into vitamin A that helps maintain normal vision. To be more specific, vitamin A strengthens your cornea and assists sight in low-light scenarios. Vitamin A itself is such a key player for maintaining healthy eyes that being deficient in vitamin A can lead to blindness. So, carrots can definitely help support healthy eyes and vision—they just won’t necessarily improve your eyesight outright and make it a perfect 20/20. There’s no need to overload on carrots or vitamin A out of fear. Most people in modern countries consume a good amount of vitamin A already so keep eating a regularly balanced diet to stay healthy.
“Your eyes are at risk only when it’s sunny out.”
Have you ever gotten sunburned even though it was cloudy outside? Similar to that, your eyes can still be affected by ultraviolet (UV) rays
even when the sun isn’t directly on you. That means your eyes can still be damaged by UV rays on days when it’s overcast, even though it seems like they’re safe from the sun. It’s good practice to wear your sunglasses whenever you’re outside—just to be extra safe. Research has found that prolonged exposure to UV rays can lead to cataracts
developing in your eyes. Cataracts will cloud your eye and then possibly cause loss of vision down the road...yikes! Keep your sunglasses handy, come rain or shine, if you want to prevent that damage to your eyes.
“Your vision will get worse wearing glasses or contacts.”
This rumor in particular may make some of us concerned about the very things that help us see in the first place. The idea is that being dependent on vision correcting devices such as glasses or contacts actually makes your natural vision much weaker. Thankfully, this isn’t true. Your prescription getting stronger over time is just a natural decline in your eyesight with age—it has nothing to do with the use of eye care products.
Keeping up to date with your prescription is actually very important, even starting from a younger age. A 2002 study showed that children who were given the right prescription helped lower the progress of nearsightedness,
as opposed to the use of a weaker prescription that increased the chances.
“Your vision gets worse by reading in the dark.”
We all remember reading as the sun went down only to be reminded to turn a light on so we don’t make our eyesight worse. Guess what? This connection is false! Experts say
based on research that there’s no concrete link between reading in the dark and harm to your vision. Of course, more light helps you see easily, but reading in a darker setting doesn’t hurt your vision. It certainly can cause your eyes to strain if it’s too dark, but permanent damage shouldn’t be a concern. If you prefer to avoid getting a headache from straining your eyes or irritating them, just flip a light on whenever it starts getting dark. Research has also shown that a lack of exposure to daylight can have negative effects on your eyesight
, though, so keep that in mind when considering the effect of light exposure on your eyes.
“Staring at your screen for too long damages eyesight.”
A good chunk of our days are spent looking at a screen, whether it’s our phone, computer, tv, or tablet. So the idea that those very screens have been damaging our eyes can be a bit worrying. Most optometrists have been throwing this topic around for a long time, but the majority of them agree that screens aren’t going to cause vision damage. The reason why it might have been so easy to believe is due to the screen overexposure that leads to headaches, strained eyes, dryness and blurry vision.
The American Optometric Association categorizes these symptoms as Digital Eye Strain
, which can be made even worse when trying to focus on smaller devices like cell phones and tablets. You can keep using your devices normally, just remember to try and follow the 20-20-20 rule to cut back on those irritating effects: Take 20 seconds of a break every 20 minutes from screen time to focus on an object 20 feet away. Your eyes won’t feel as dry or bothered and your headaches will hopefully occur less often from screen-causing effects if you keep with that routine. Now the next time you sit down for another Netflix binge, you won’t need to worry about serious eye damage.