Top Myths About Vision in Indian Children

Myth: Eating carrots improves your vision.

Fact: Vitamin A aids in the normal functioning of eyes. Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, but green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits are rich in it as well. In addition to vitamin A, these other vegetables also contain greater amounts of vitamin C and E, which protect eyes from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. However, these sources will neither prevent nor repair vision problems like nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Myth: Sitting too close to the television can damage children’s eyes.

Fact: There is no evidence that watching TV closely can be damaging to the eyes. However, it can affect your eyes temporarily. A decrease in the amount of times children blink their eyes while watching TV can lead to eyestrain. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), kids are actually able to focus up close without eyestrain better than adults can. Because of this, they often develop the habit of sitting close to the TV. However, sitting close to a TV can also be a sign of nearsightedness.

Myth: Taking a break from glasses or contact lenses allows your eyes to rest.

Fact: Glasses help people to see more clearly. Those who are prescribed glasses for distance or reading need to use them all the time because reading without glasses will strain the eyes and tire them out. Wearing glasses doesn’t weaken vision or lead to eye disease.
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Myth: Reading in dim light is harmful to the eyes.

Fact: Reading in dim light doesn’t harm your eyes. The fact is that it does put more strain on your eyes than reading in normal light does, so therefore the eyes will fatigue more quickly in dim light and sometimes will lead to headaches. However, there are no damaging effects of dim light on the eyes.

Myth: Using computers can damage your eyes.

Fact: Computer use doesn’t harm your eyes. When we work on a computer, our eyes blink less than normal, and this makes the eyes dry and leads to a feeling of eyestrain or fatigue. Therefore, it is simply recommended to take short breaks while working on a computer for longer periods of time to combat this.

Myth: Wearing the wrong eyeglasses damages your eyes.

Fact: Eyeglasses are worn to sharpen the wearer’s blurred vision, but only eyeglasses with the correct prescription will help to see clearly. Wearing eyeglasses with the wrong lenses, or not wearing glasses at all, will not physically damage our eyes, however, when children need eyeglasses and do not wear the correct prescription, amblyopia or “lazy eye” can develop. Wearing the wrong eyeglasses may also lead to headaches, eye fatigue & blurred vision.

Myth: Wearing eyeglasses will cause you to become dependent on them.

Fact: Eyeglasses are required to correct blurry vision. Once someone starts wearing them, they naturally find that they want to wear eyeglasses more often to have clear vision all the time. That being said, they may feel as if they are dependent on their eyeglasses, but in reality they are just getting in the habit of seeing clearly.

Myth: Learning disabilities are caused by eye problems.

Fact:
There is no evidence at present that eye problems can lead to learning disabilities in children. These difficulties can be resolved by trained teachers and professionals, but before starting such treatment, it is important for the child to have a complete medical eye examination to rule out possibilities of any eye problems.

Myth: Squinting a lot damages your vision.

Fact: Squinting may be considered a sign that you need glasses. It is not going to harm your eyes or make your need for glasses any worse, but it does require contraction of the facial muscles, which can lead to headaches. Squinting is an attempt to make the pupil smaller so that it lets in less light. Closing the lids further enhances the focus of the eyes. Because of this, squinting is simply a natural aid to help see better when in need of glasses.

Myth: Children outgrow squinted/crossed/misaligned eyes.

Fact:
Habitual squinting is abnormal above the age of 6 months. Children do not outgrow crossed eyes. They may develop poor vision in one eye because the brain will “turn off” or ignore the image from the misaligned eye, leading to permanently decreased vision (i.e., lazy eye/amblyopia). The misaligned eye will not develop good vision unless it is treated, generally before 10 years of age. Children who appear to have misaligned eyes should be examined by an eye specialist.

Gaurav Gupta, MD Dr. Gaurav Gupta is currently the pediatrics consultant at Charak Child Care in Mohali, India and is also the CEO of TravelSafe Clinic (www.travelsafeclinic.com). He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), with extensive publications and presentations in national and international journals & conferences.

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