10 Eye Health Myths That May Be Impacting Your Eyes

Colorado’s doctors of optometry are clearing up 10 common myths about vision and eye health that could be negatively impacting your health. Understanding your eye health is key for preserving vision and comprehensive eye exams are your best chance at early detection of eye health issues and over 270 other health conditions. 

Myth 1: Dry, scratchy and/or red eyes are just part of living in Colorado since we live in an arid climate
Colorado’s climate easily accelerates the evaporation of tears that we produce and can contribute to dry eye disease, but the actual cause of producing fewer tears is unknown. Dry eyes can also be influenced by hormonal changes, some medications, other illness/disease and aging. However, dry eyes and dry eye disease are treatable and preventable even in Colorado. If you have dry, scratchy, gritty, and/or red eyes from time to time a lubricating eye drop can provide relief. If you experience dry eyes more frequently or are experiencing increasing discomfort then getting an eye exam with your optometrist is recommended to fully understand and address your symptoms.

Myth 2: Not everyone gets cataracts
Actually, everyone is prone to cataracts if they live long enough and most cataracts are age-related. More than half of Americans over the age of 80 have experienced cataracts and your risk for cataracts increases after age 40. Stave off the onset of cataracts by not smoking/vaping tobacco, limit alcohol, reduce UVA/B exposure by wearing sunglasses and a hat, and eat a balanced diet with leafy greens, berries, and nuts.

Myth 3: An eye exam is only needed if I am having a vision problem
This is not true. Many eye health challenges can be present without symptoms, but these eye conditions can be quietly progressing until an individual’s vision is threatened and symptoms arise. To put this in perspective, 80% of all retinal disease is asymptomatic. Your eye health plan should include annual comprehensive eye exams for early detection and management of eye health diseases and conditions. A comprehensive eye exam looks at more than just vision acuity and can uncover over 270 other health conditions that other exams can’t detect like some cancers, many auto immune diseases, hypertension, stroke risk and more.

Myth 4: If you cross your eyes they will stay that way
This is simply not true. Misalignment of the eyes is called Strabismus and is typically due to an underlying health condition. Strabismus can be corrected with glasses and/or surgery and does not occur from simply crossing your eyes.

Myth 5: If I eat more carrots my eyes will get better
While carrots hold great nutrients for your eyes, they are best used in a balanced diet to prevent eye health issues and do not aid in correcting existing vision or eye health issues. In fact, when it comes to eye health prevention is key because most eye health and vision issues can only be managed/corrected and not cured once they are present.

Myth 6: If you wear glasses your eyes will get worse
Your eyes change due to genetics, outside influences like computer use etc, not from seeing clearly. Some individuals feel that their vision is worse when they take off their glasses. What happens in these cases is that the glasses are working well to correct your vision and when you take the glasses off your brain is telling you that it likes the help of glasses. Remember that your brain plays a large part in your vision too.

Myth 7: If you don’t wear glasses your eyes get worse
Your eyes change due to genetics, outside influences like computer use etc, not from seeing blurry. Not wearing glasses or contacts leads to eye strain from not seeing clearly.

Myth 8: If I wait to get reading glasses in my 40’s I will keep my eyes stronger longer
This theory only creates eye strain and eye fatigue. Age-related vision changes like the changes that occur after age 40, are due to the lens in your eye losing elasticity as you age. These vision changes are not due to a muscle that is losing tone.

Myth 9: Contact lenses can get lost in your eye or go into your brain
There is no way for contacts to get lost in your eye. They can be hard to find, but they are there.

Myth 10: I can’t wear contacts because I have an astigmatism
Astigmatism occurs in 90% of the population and it is dealt with as easily as nearsightedness. Most people can be fit with contact lenses, but you can also correct an astigmatism with glasses or laser eye surgery.

Ages 60+: How to Preserve Your Vision for Safe Driving

Driving is a daily activity that brings us freedom and independence to navigate the world, but this skill can become increasingly difficult after the age of 60. These new vision challenges are often due to age-related vision changes that can cause vision loss if not addressed. Many of these changes are not immediately noticed by patients, but early detection is key for preserving eye health and slowing progression. Fear not, your local optometrist can help you keep your eyes in check for continued safe driving.

Dr. Jean Demoss, Board President at the Colorado Optometric Association explains, “In the world of optometry, our 60th birthday means that our risk increases for age-related eye diseases. Many of these conditions first show up without any symptoms. This makes your annual comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist critical for early detection of eye health issues and continued safe driving for years to come.”

An individual’s vision and eye health may also be impacted by non-eye-related health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, or medications. Many patients don’t know that when an optometrist performs a comprehensive exam, they are able to look for over 200 non-eye-related health conditions including cancer, autoimmune disorders, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, diabetes, brain tumors, and more.

Remember that online screeners and eye tests are never a substitute for an annual comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor. Lower your risk of age-related vision problems and start preserving your vision today so you can keep driving safely by taking these actions today:

  • Attending your annual comprehensive eye exam is your best opportunity for early detection and management of age-related eye diseases and other health issues
  • Reduce the sun damage risk to your eyes when outdoors by wearing sunglasses that are UV blocking with a wide brimmed hat
  • Quit smoking and vaping as it increases the risk of eye diseases
  • Maintain a healthy weight to reduce your risk of glaucoma, high blood pressure, diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, and other health and eye-health challenges
  • Eat a diet supportive for your eye health that is packed with leafy greens, fish high in omega-3s, eggs, fruits, berries, and nuts
  • Take the online Eye Health Risk Assessment for a better understanding of your current risk level

Common Symptoms of Age-related Eye Diseases
(please note that many age-related eye diseases can be present without symptoms):

  • Not seeing road signs clearly
  • Difficulty focusing on close objects
  • Trouble estimating speed and distance
  • Changes in color perception
  • Problems seeing in low light or at night
  • Trouble adapting to bright lights like headlights, sunlight or glare
  • Reduced peripheral vision1

Common Age-related Eye Diseases After Age 60 Include:

  • Age-related macular degeneration can cause central vision loss with peripheral vision remaining functional.
  • Cataracts are changes in color or clarity of the lens inside your eye that can cause blurry or decreased vision.
  • Diabetic retinopathy is caused by diabetes. Diabetes can damage blood vessels in the eye and can cause changes in your vision and permanent vision loss if severe.
  • Dry eye can cause fluctuating vision, chronic eye discomfort and pain and inability to participate in normal activities like watching movies or TV.
  • Glaucoma damages the optic nerve and can cause peripheral vision loss before noticeable symptoms occur.
  • Retinal detachment can occur from physical trauma to the eye or head, underlying health issues, inflammatory eye diseases or with no underlying reason. If undetected or treated can cause permanent vision loss.

1https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-health-for-life/senior-vision?sso=yd

When K-12 Academic Challenges Arise, This Exam is Essential

The American Optometric Association reports that 1 in 4 children have a vision issue that negatively impacts learning. Even children with “perfect vision” can still struggle academically because other aspects of the visual system are not perfect. This makes 20/20 vision only one measure of the visual system. If the whole visual system is not functioning properly our kids may be missing out since 80% of all learning is visual! This makes a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist essential for all children especially those experiencing learning issues.

When a child enters the classroom, they rely on basic visual skills to learn effectively. When one or more of these skills, like eye teaming or focusing, are not properly functioning learning becomes more effortful and often the child can’t keep up with the pace. As a child moves through each grade, the visual demands are greater as they take on more reading, writing, smaller print, higher standards of work, longer lectures, and more general stress. With the increase of these academic demands, it’s important to immediately address any suspected learning challenges with a comprehensive eye exam.

In fact, a comprehensive eye exam can prevent misdiagnosis or aid in diagnosis of other learning challenges like ADHD or dyslexia. Through a comprehensive eye exam, an optometrist can identify issues beyond refractive problems like nearsightedness. In fact, eye teaming and tracking issues are frequently seen in children with other learning disorders. Appropriate diagnosis and treatment of the eye issues often help the child deal with the other learning issues.

Vision screeners that take place in schools, online or with a pediatrician are NOT a sufficient replacement for a comprehensive eye exam. The American Optometric Association reports that, “Even the most sophisticated vision screening tools, administered by the most highly trained screeners, miss one-third of children with eye or vision disorders.” That’s why optometrists recommend that students who have passed a vision screening still get a comprehensive eye exam for a full look into the child’s visual system.

Signs that may indicate a child has a vision problem include:

  • Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading and other close activities
  • Regular headaches
  • Covering one eye
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • Holding reading materials close to the face
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Losing place when reading
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Complaints of discomfort and fatigue1

Colorado’s doctors of optometry recommend that your child follows the schedule below for comprehensive eye exams with an eye doctor for proper pediatric eye care. This schedule ensures that the child’s visual system is hitting developmental milestones as they approach and participate in classroom learning.

Children’s Eye Exam Schedule:

  • 6 Months: First eye exam w/ optometrist (No-cost eye exams for infants 6-12 months through the InfantSEE national public health program)
  • 3 Years: Second eye exam w/ optometrist
  • 5 Years: Third eye exam w/ optometrist
  • 6+ Years: After age 5 eye exams should continue every 2 years for low-risk children (unless otherwise recommended by an optometrist).

1 https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-health-for-life/school-aged-vision?sso=y

Scroll to Top