Most (or all) of us have heard these statements at least once in our lives: "Don't cross your eyes or they'll get stuck like that" or "Don't sit too close to the TV or you'll ruin your eyesight!" Are these just things moms say to get kids to behave? What are the actual facts? Do you think you can spot the truth from the fiction? Test yourself below:

1.) Eating lots of carrots will improve your vision.


Carrots are delicious and healthy. They are packed with vitamin A which is important for your eyesight and they are always a good choice for your diet. However, lots of foods contain vitamin A including eggs, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes and oranges. As long as you are making healthy food choices and getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, your normal diet should provide plenty of this vitamin. Carrots are good for you but no matter how many you eat it will not improve your vision.


2.) If you cross your eyes they will stay that way.


The legend goes that if  you cross your eyes they will stay that way- especially if someone slaps you on the back at the same time! The truth is that although the muscles in your eyes will get tired if you cross them for an extended period of time, there is no medical evidence to suggest that they will get stuck like that. Eyes are meant to move in all directions and no amount of crossing them will make it permanent. In face our eyes naturally converge or come together when we are reading or looking at things up close so when you purposefully cross your eyes you are just exaggerating this natural response. However, if you notice that your child is crossing one eye constantly, schedule an evaluation by an eyecare professional.


3.) If parents have poor eyesight, their children will inherit the trait as well.

Sadly, this one is sometimes true.

The two most common and serious types of eye disease among adults, Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma are inherited in most cases. Researchers have found a strong family connection in a large percentage of patients with Macular Degeneration (a condition where the central part of the retina begins to deteriorate causing loss of vision), and they are working to identify the specific genes involved.

There are also genetic links for conditions such as Strabismus and a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa (which causes night blindness and gradual loss of vision).

But what about more common refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism? Research shows these conditions are often caused by inherited genetic markers. In fact, people with a genetic predisposition toward refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism are ten times more likely to develop them. Heredity is tied to 50% of cases of astigmatism, and to 50% of cases of color blindness as well. And, parental nearsightedness significantly increases a child's chance of becoming nearsighted. A child who does not have a nearsighted (myopic) parent has only a 2.5% chance of becoming nearsighted, but when one parent is nearsighted, the child's odds of becoming nearsighted increase to 20%. And if both parents are nearsighted, that child's chances of developing myopia increase to 33%. In other words, one in three children whose parents are both myopic will become myopic.

However, the blame is not entirely genetic. There are many environmental factors which affect our eye health and vision that can be controlled. For instance, wearing UV protective sunwear while outdoors, and maintaining a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, fish and fruit will help to prevent age related eye disorders. Also, because smokers have four times the risk of developing cataracts, age related macular degeneration and cancer, do not smoke! And if you do smoke, quit as soon as possible! Lastly, be sure to give an accurate and complete family history to your eyecare professional so they can be sure to monitor any increased risks you may have.


4.) Wearing glasses will make your eyes dependent on them and make your eyes weaker.


Wearing glasses will not make your eyes worse. Some eye conditions such as nearsightedness or farsightedness will worsen over time, but that has nothing to do with glasses. This belief that glasses make your eyes weaker is acutally based on the perception you will get once you see your corrected vision compared to your uncorrected vision. For instance, if you don't wear glasses or if the prescription in your glasses is not strong enough due to a change in your vision, you may not necessarily perceive how badly you are seeing because you don't have anything to compare it to . Once you begin wearing your new prescription lenses, you will realize how much better the world looks with them on!

5.) Sitting too close to the television will ruin your eyesight.

Sorry mom, this is false.

It's common for kids to sit close to the TV, but the reason is simply to become more engaged in it, not really to see it better. It's really about the immersion in the sights and sounds and story. There is no truth to the myth that sitting too close to the television will make your eyes weaker.

However, if your child cannot comfortably see the television from the couch, it is time to visit your eyecare professional.


6.) You only need an eye exam if you notice a problem.


You may think your eyesight is fine or think you don't need to worry about eye problems until you reach your forties, but this doesn't mean you should skip your yearly eye exam. A comprehensive eye exam is about much more than monitoring your glasses or contact lens prescription. Your eye doctor will also check for diseases such as glaucoma which can show up long before you reach old age. Additionally, your eye doctor may notice signs of other diseases such as diabetes or high cholesterol. Regular eye exams are an important part of your overall health. And, yearly eye exams will give you the best chance at early detection for some of the most devastating eye conditions which may end up saving your eyesight!








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