Unless you’re on the educational path to becoming an optometrist, it’s unlikely you’ll learn much about your vision outside of the brief lessons taught in biology class. So much of what we know about our eyes comes the experience of sight or what we learn from our annual eye exam, and that leaves the door open for myths and misinformation to fill our heads, explains Dr. Vivienne Velasco of iFocus Vision Center.
As children, we would hear our parents say, “Eat your carrots, they’ll help you see better,” as if there were no other foods that were good for our eyes. You may have also heard an adult say, “Don’t sit too close to the TV or it will ruin your eyes,” without defining how close is “too close.”
“We’ll hear these things and accept them as facts, because they’re coming from an adult,” Dr. Velasco says. “But it’s important to separate truth from myth.”
Throughout her life and career, Dr. Velasco has worked to clear up the confusion surrounding these myths. Here are five truths about common vision-related myths.
Myth: Sit a Distance Equal to Twice the Width of the Screen When Watching TV
Fortunately, this is a myth, or we’d need to keep measuring tape next to the remote control at all times.
“If this were true then all of us are sitting too close to our computer screens,” Dr. Velasco explains. “It is more comfortable to sit farther away from a television, but there is no set rule on how far away someone should sit.”
Although there’s no evidence that sitting too close to the screen will hurt your eyes, parents should be mindful that if a child needs to sit closer to the television in order to see the image, this could be a sign of Myopia (nearsightedness).
Myth: Reading in Dim Light Can Strain Your Eyes
At a time in which many of us spend hours of the day on our phones and tablets, it makes sense to ask questions about the impact screens have on our eyes. Dr. Velasco, however, says dim light isn’t a danger to your sight.
“Reading a book on paper is more difficult in dim lighting and it may cause eye strain, but it will not harm your eyes,” she says. “It is always best, however, to have proper lighting when reading books or devices.”
Myth: Sunglasses Will Allow Me to Look Directly At the Sun
Dr. Velasco advocates wearing sunglasses anytime you step outside in order to preserve your vision. However, looking up, even with your eyes shaded, is dangerous.
“Never, ever, under any circumstances, whether you are wearing eyeglasses or sunglasses, should you stare at the sun,” she says.
Myth: Many Eyeglass Prescriptions Are Identical
You may have been prescribed the same medication to treat the same condition or illness as someone you know, but it’s not the same when it comes to eyeglasses.
“Eyeglass prescriptions are unique to you,” Dr. Velasco says. “I haven’t even treated twins with the same exact prescription.”
Myth: Air Pollution Only Affects My Lungs and Breathing
Living and working in Southern Nevada, Dr. Velasco can easily recognize the risk pollen, dust, smog, and smoke pose to patients with eye allergies.
“I see more people complain about red, itchy, and watery eyes during times of poor air quality,” she says. “Take extra precaution when going outside, wear sunglasses or protective eyewear, use artificial tears, and remember to change your air filters in the house every three months or more.”
Have questions for Dr. Velasco? Call 702-473-5660 or book an appointment online at the iFocus Vision Center website.