Eyesight is a very sensitive thing. There is lots of good advice to keep it healthy, but unfortunately there are many myths as well.
By Dawn Flemming
There are plenty of health myths around. Perhaps the most widespread, especially for seniors, are those that have to do with vision loss. In this article we will look at the top three myths about eyesight and vision.
Myth #1: Carrots
Some research is showing that carrots are not what they are claimed to be when it comes to helping with eyesight. According to the Scientific American,
…other research has shown that beta-carotene does not convert into vitamin A very efficiently—estimates suggest it requires anywhere from 12 to 21 molecules of beta-carotene in the diet to make just one molecule of vitamin A. Beta-carotene, unlike straight vitamin A, would need to be converted in the intestinal wall into vitamin A, meaning most individuals would be better off taking vitamin A supplements, if possible, instead of downing carrots.
Binging on carrots would also not improve most Americans’ eyesight. Once you have enough beta-carotene in your body it often will no longer convert to vitamin A, Chew says.
On the contrary, it seems that green veggies do a better job at helping your eyes. The Scientific American writes:
When it comes to eating nutrient-rich foods to improve eyesight, more generally, Chew suggests stocking up on green, leafy vegetables. Spinach, kale or collard greens—all chock-full of lutein and zeaxanthin (which are other food-derived nutrients)—could help protect your eyes by filtering high-energy wavelengths of visible light that can damage the retina. Such foods may also help to protect against age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of blindness in the elderly.
Myth #2: Sitting Close to TV Will Mess Up Your Eyesight
That is not correct. Watching TV up close will give you a headache but it won’t damage your eyesight. Here is what the American Academy of Ophthalmology has to say:
Contrary to the popular myth, sitting too close to a TV will not damage your eyes but it may cause eyestrain. Children can focus at close distance without eyestrain better than adults. Therefore children often develop the habit of holding reading materials close to their eyes or sitting right in front of the television. There is no evidence that this damages the eyes either in children or adults. With children, this habit usually diminishes as they grow older.
Myth #3: Reading in the Dark Will Weaken Your Eyesight
Just like the TV myth, reading in the dark won’t damage your eyesight. It will only cause eyestrain and give you a headache. Here is what Essilor has to say:
So how does reading in the dark affect your eyes? According to most eye doctors, it won't cause lasting damage. Vision tends to weaken over time for most people, and family history tends to be a big factor in determining that. But while reading in low light won't cause a decline in vision, it can lead to eye strain.
Just like any muscle in the body, the eyes can get weak when overworked. Challenging visual work, like reading in dim light, causes the eyes to become tired faster than they normally would. Some symptoms of eye strain include tired eyes, headaches, itchy eyes, blurred vision, and increased sensitivity to light.
If you are concerned about a weakening vision, make sure to consult with your doctor.
Dawn Flemming is Director of Business Services at Geriatric In-Home Care in Fresno, California.