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Eyesight Myths Debunked

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We see with our brains, not our eyes. So why do so many people believe that they can improve their vision by looking at a specific colour or blinking their eyes? We have all been victims of myths that tell us we can improve our vision by following this or that. These myths are repeated over and over again until they become truths.

Let’s debunk some of these misconceptions about eye health. 

Carrots

Your mother and other elders must have tried to get you to eat your veggies by telling you they would make your cheeks redder or hair shinier, but nothing beats what carrots are supposed to do. Eat carrots to improve your eyesight, and eat raw carrots to be able to see at night. 

This was propaganda spread by the RAF(Royal Air Force) during the Second World War to keep hidden the fact that their pilots were using radar, so their better visual accuracy was marketed as the benefit of eating carrots.

But again, this is not entirely untrue. According to WebMD, carrots are a marvellous source of certain antioxidants like beta-carotene and lutein. They protect your eyes from being damaged by free radicals, which are usually responsible for eye diseases related to ageing. Orange carrots especially have a lot of beta carotene that is converted by your body into Vitamin A. 

This vitamin forms a pigment called rhodopsin, whose deficiency may cause night blindness. Moreover, the high amounts of lutein found in yellow carrots can slow down age-related macular degeneration (AMD), gradually blurring your vision with age. So now you know why the myth persists and why eating carrots are still good for your eyes. 

Greenery

We are often advised by well-wishers to regularly look at greenery to improve our eyesight. Green plants strategically placed inside your home or office cubicle are meant to help you see better. Not exactly the way it works, though.

Green is a primary color, like red and blue, as far as human eyesight is concerned. Our eyes can detect light between the wavelength of 400–700 nanometers, which is the span of our entire visual spectrum. Interestingly, the color green lies exactly in the middle of this spectrum, and its approximate wavelength can be pinned at about 550 nanometers. 

If you don’t believe this, think of the rainbow acronym – green lies exactly in the middle of VIBGYOR. Therefore, our perception is best at this wavelength because it causes us the least amount of strain. So, green calms down our nervous system and thus soothes us. So, greenery does help with eye strain in general, but not exactly with eyesight, and it’s still not a bad idea at all to keep green plants near you – it will keep you at peace.

Eye exercises

Daily exercise keeps your body healthy, and regular workout helps build your muscles. So by that logic, shouldn’t regular eye exercises help improve your eyesight? The problem is simply in the wording. Exercise can help your eyes, but not eyesight, not even if you do them very regularly, but definitely it does reduce eye strain.

According to Harvard Medical School, eye exercises will not eliminate any of the common vision problems like nearsightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia, or age-related lens stiffening. And it won’t do anything for glaucoma or macular degeneration either.

Vision therapy is a relatively new kind of physical therapy where a patient is prescribed certain sets of eye exercises based on their corresponding eye condition. This approach can be effective when treating eye disorders like strabismus, amblyopia, and saccadic dysfunction.

These exercises include the 20-20-20 rule, palming, blinking consciously, and so on. So, while you must rely on the best eyeglasses for your myopia, you can depend on some of these exercises to reduce your eye strain and lack of visual focus or alignment. 

Reading in dim light

At some point in your life, when young, you must have been scolded by your parents for trying to read a comic book by flashlight or for trying to read a storybook in dim light. But as it turns out, multiple studies reveal that reading or doing anything in very bright light isn’t the best idea either.

This is because this kind of light bulb that emits harmful ultraviolet rays may increase the risk of eye problems like cataracts and Pterygium, also called surfer’s eye. So, don’t use them for the same reason as you don’t look at the sun during an eclipse without special glasses. 

Therefore, a dimmer source of light will not be so bad. ‘Warm’ lights like CFL  may be used as they emit fewer UV rays and are more energy efficient. LED bulbs or halogens might be an even better solution. So, it’s better to steer clear of bright lights, but also, definitely not read by flashlight because it may cause undue stress and fatigue to your eyes.  

Don’t need an eye exam unless you have problems seeing

Going to the doctor is never a treat because it is usually followed by some kind of new medicine routine or diet or something. So, it’s easy to understand why we are so reluctant to visit doctors, even if it is an ophthalmologist. Moreover, why visit if you’re not really facing any problems? 

This might come as a cliche, but it is always best if you are under regular check-ups, even if you don’t have an immediate problem. Getting an eye exam at regular intervals costs you almost nothing, but it is essential to monitor your vision and eyesight, especially in detecting early signs of AMD, diabetes, or even eye cancer. If you haven’t had an eye exam in a while, it’s a good idea to schedule one right away.

Therefore, social media and generational knowledge may have plenty of tidbits of advice to improve your eyesight. But now you know not to pay attention to every one of them and rather do your own research to find the real benefits. We hope this article helped debunk some of the more prevalent myths and showed how to keep a more careful eye on your eyes.


Alicia Saxon did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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