Did Mom Really Know Best?

Vision Myths and Realities
by Scott Silverman, MD
Fellowship-trained Pediatric Ophthalmologist

There are hundreds of tales told to children as they are growing up. Most of these stories are meant to help them – but are they true? Check and see for yourself warnings you were smart to follow and those that were OK to ignore.

Reading in dim light hurts your eyes.

False. This is simply not true.  Low light can make it difficult for one to read but causes no damage.

Sitting too close to TV/computer hurts your eyes.

No longer true. The newer models of televisions and computer screens pose minimal risk. However, very old television screens and computer monitors do give off low dose radiation and close range exposure is not recommended over long periods of time.

If you cross your eyes they will stay that way.

False. Forcing your eyes to cross will not cause the eyes to stay crossed. The eyes should return to their normal position when the child relaxes. If this does not occur there is reason for concern.

Eating carrots gives you good eye sight.

False. Bugs Bunny didn’t get his excellent eye sight from carrots – nature gave it to him. Although specific foods will not enhance your child’s sight, a well-rounded healthy diet is crucial to proper development.

Not using your glasses will hurt your eyes.

Usually False. In general, children over the age of seven will cause no harm to their eyes by not wearing their glasses. However, younger children with a strong prescription depend upon their glasses to allow for the proper development of the visual system. For these children, not wearing glasses could permanently reduce their vision.

Staring into the sun will damage your eyes.

True. Significant damage can occur if you look at the sun for a period of time, especially during a solar eclipse. Permanent retinal damage is possible from a single prolonged viewing the sun. Neither you nor your children should never stare at the sun. Indirect damage can also occur from UV light rays, even when not looking directly at the sun. For this reason, it is advisable to wear sun glasses when spending time in the sun.

Blinking your eyes protects against flying objects.

False. Blinking your eyes is a protective reflex but provides minimal defense against sharp objects. Safety glasses should always be worn during activities with the risk of flying objects such as sawing, drilling, hammering, archery, racquetball, and shooting.

You can have Allergic Eyes.

True. As with other parts of the body, the eyes can have allergic reactions. This is most often in the form of allergic conjunctivitis. Watch for itching, redness and rubbing of the eyes. This problem can be effectively treated with eye drops.

Children outgrow crossing of the eyes.

False. Children do not outgrow crossing of the eyes. It is normal for infants’ eyes to wander up to 3 months of age; however, after 3 months of age the eyes should be straight. Crossing or drifting of an eye is not normal and needs to be evaluated by a physician.

Before and After

Before and after eye muscle surgery image

Photos of Eye
Muscle Surgeries

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Girl with pink eye patch image

What is Lazy Eye? Vision problems are common in children. Early recognition and treatment are the keys to preventing permanent visual impairment.