EyeQ: myth or science

Curious as to whether those rumors you hear about vision are fact or fiction? Get the real scoop below.

Sitting too close to the TV harms vision

There are plenty of reasons to limit the amount of television you watch, but there is no lasting harm to your vision by sitting near the screen. Your eyes might feel strained, but it’s a temporary condition.

Two tips to prevent eye strain:

  • Remember to blink. Blinking keeps the eyes moisturized.
  • Look away once in a while. It gives the eyes a break, forces you to refocus on something in the distance and then something near again (sort of like a seventh-inning stretch) and encourages blinking.

Reading in low light harms eyes

You probably heard from parents and teachers throughout your life that reading in low light causes nearsightedness. You might have even passed on this popular health tip. It’s time to reverse this myth.

Sure, the pupil enlarges when there is less light to adjust for the amount of available light, just as it shrinks to adjust to bright light. You might even strain your eyes and suffer a headache after reading in low light. But there is no long-term damage.

Most “color blind” people can see some color

Very few people with color vision deficiency—the technical term for color blindness—see only black and white or shades of gray. True color blindness is called achromatopsia and is relatively rare.

The most common form of color vision deficiency is red-green, a condition that generally makes it difficult to differentiate between the two colors. The blue-yellow condition is rare. Persons with blue-yellow deficiency frequently have red-green blindness, too. In both cases, it is common for people with color vision deficiency to see neutral or gray areas where most people see a particular color.

Color deficiency is usually an inherited condition, but there are other causes:

  • Damage to the optic nerve or retina
  • Diseases such as diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic alcoholism, leukemia and sickle cell anemia
  • Certain medications used to treat heart problems, high blood pressure, infections, nervous disorders and psychological problems
  • Aging and exposure to some fertilizers and styrene

Worsening vision is an inevitable part of aging

In a word: True. Everyone’s vision deteriorates with age, although the rate and degree of deterioration are largely impacted by lifestyle choices and access to professional vision care.

  • People whose diets include zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids can delay cataracts and even control the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
  • If you smoke, stop. Smoking interferes with the body’s ability to absorb vitamin C, essential to eye health. Smoke irritates the eyes, especially if you wear contact lenses. The odds of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration increase four times over if you are a regular smoker.
  • Annual eye exams are a must, not something to do when and if your schedule opens up. With proper diagnosis and regular checkups, you can take steps to correct many age-related vision problems. Cataracts can be removed. Glaucoma, in its early stages, can be treated with lasers. Lasik treatment continues to evolve. The key is early diagnosis and regular follow-up with your eye doctor.

To learn about these facts, check out the American Optometric Association website at www.aoa.org.