Hello Fellow Benevilla Baby Boomers!
Did my last article about the “Top 5 Dental Tips” bring a smile to your face? I hope so, because nothing is more important than having good health and preserving your quality of life. You know what they say…”Your teeth are the window to your soul.“ OK, maybe my dentist made that up but I can now see what he means by that.
Speaking of seeing, how are your eyes doing? If you are anything like me, you have lived your entire life with less than perfect eyesight but not really caring that much about it. It was just part of growing up. And now, things are getting a little fuzzier, you are not as secure driving at night and you spend an inordinate amount of time hunting for one of your 10 pairs of reading glasses every time you sit down at the computer or pick up a newspaper.
You know what, that’s OK. You are not by yourself.
If you think about it, like our teeth, we have taken our eyesight for granted over the years. For many of us, we never worried about eye health when we were younger. If you were lucky your parents scheduled an eye exam at the local Sears or Montgomery Ward once a year for you. If you passed…good for you. If not, the optometrist fitted you for a really stylish pair of Coke bottle glasses with thick black frames. Invariably, you broke them within the first week and they spent the rest of their useful life taped up and crooked on your nose. As you grew into maturity, your glasses gave way to contacts. At first they were rigid slices of glass that felt like, well, rigid slices of glass on your eyes. Then technology caught up and contacts morphed into flexible and breathable plastic that was actually comfortable to wear. So what happened then? We took them for granted. We seldom followed doctor recommended hygiene instructions, we let them dry out, we licked them when putting them on our eyes and we fell asleep with them in. Hey, so they burned for a while…so what. I remember wearing ripped contacts just because I couldn’t afford new ones.
And then, as I hit 40, there came LASIK. OMG, what a wonderful procedure. No more reaching for my glasses every morning when I woke up. No more contaminating my eyes with plaque and saliva covered contacts. Freedom, freedom at last. Then came my late 40’s and early 50’s, the beginning of my “golden years,” and my eyesight started to slowly decline again. Hey, I have no complaints. My eyes have given me almost 60 years of great service no matter how hard I tried to destroy them.
If I had only listened to my parents when I was younger. How many times did they tell me not to sit so close to the TV? How many times did they beg me to eat my carrots because they made my eyes stronger? How many times did they catch me reading magazines (OK, looking at pictures) in the dark and yelled at me that I was ruining my eyes?
Now that I am older and wiser, I often wonder if my parent’s advice may have saved me from a lifetime of ugly glasses, torturous contacts and eventually laser surgery on my eyes? And what about everything you hear and see on those “Doctor” shows on TV or read about on the computer? Is there any truth in their warnings or has it all been another example of propagandized parental myths.
Well, I dug in to the subject a little deeper than most men would dare and I think you will be surprised by what I found out. Read on to discover the truth behind…
5 Wildly Surprising Eye Myths
The Myth: Eating carrots will help your vision.
The Truth: There are absolutely no documented studies to date that prove your eyesight will stay sharper by eating more carrots. Hey, they may not help as much as we would like but they don’t hurt. Carrots contain a high quantity of vitamin A – a nutrient essential to proper eye function. Overall expert advice is to keep adding rabbit food to your daily meals. Carrots may not improve your eyesight but it will aid in keeping them stronger longer. Just so you know, if you think you can sidestep eating the crunchy orange comestibles and just take vitamin A supplements…Don’t. It appears that your body doesn’t require high levels of Vitamin A so taking more supplements than you need can actually lead to other problems.
The Myth: Sitting too close to the TV is bad for your eyes.
The Truth: Once again, there are absolutely no documented studies to date that prove you will harm your eyesight by watching reruns of “Murder She Wrote” or “Gilligan’s Island” while sitting too close to your 85” LED plasma TV. Maybe the Gamma Rays will get you (just kidding) by sitting too close but the only harmful effect experts have uncovered is the possibility of developing a headache from excessive eye movement which occurs during short-range TV viewing. So, if you find yourself needing to sit closer to the TV, it is probably a sign of nearsightedness. Go get your vision checked.
The Myth: Reading in the dark damages your eyes.
The Truth: And once again, there are absolutely no documented studies to date that prove you will harm your eyesight reading, doing Sudoku or even working on your laptop in lower light. What is very likely is that you will tire them out very quickly. That’s the extent of the damage. Again, if you insist on reading or working in the dark you run the chance of developing a headache if your eyes become too strained and tired. Why not make things easier on your eyes and turn on a light? What? Is it too much work or it costs too much? If so, you have bigger problems to discuss.
The Myth: Wearing glasses or contacts makes your eyes dependent on them.
The Truth: Are we on a roll or what? Once again, there is absolutely no documented expert proof to date that can prove that once you begin wearing corrective lenses you will need them for the rest of your life. Nor is there any documentation that your vision will worsen because you regularly wear glasses or contacts. In a nutshell, wearing glasses or contact lenses doesn’t weaken your eyesight. It’s other things such as aging, injury, disease, or genetic factors that make vision worse – not using vision correcting aids.
The Myth: Working on a computer is bad for your eyes.
The Truth: Here’s an issue that is really near and dear to my heart. Computer eyestrain has less to do with staring at the computers and more to do with the way you work with them. Most of us forget to blink for minutes at a time while staring at the screen. This behavior will dry your eyes out. And who doesn’t forget to take breaks when reading all of that “interesting” stuff on Facebook? I can go for hours without standing up and backing away from my computer. Again, like staring into the TV or reading in the dark, working for excessive lengths of time on a computer will tire your eyes and possibly give you a headache. Take some regularly scheduled breaks, step outside and stretch and give your eyes a little rest.
OK, I told you I was only going to discuss 5 myths about eye health but I know you are about to write to me and say:
“Jay, what about those cheap reading glasses I bought at the 99 Cent Store (actually 99.99 Cent Store…but that is a story for another day). They aren’t my prescription so are they damaging my eyes?”
Well, that’s a great question, so you guys have earned a “Bonus” eye myth topic.
Bonus Eye Myth:
The Myth: Wearing different prescription eyeglasses will harm your eyes.
The truth: Wearing the wrong prescription or those “cheapo” reading glasses or even not wearing glasses at all won’t harm your eyes. Expert research has shown that only wearing your correct prescription glasses will give you optimal vision but substituting your friends glasses or using those less than qualified reading spectacles will still work OK in a pinch and will do no damage.
So, did you find the truth behind these myths intriguing? I sure did. But the bottom line is “Take care of your eyes and they will take care of you.“ Now, I’m not an eye doctor, nor have I ever played one on TV, but I do recommend that you make sure to visit your eye specialist yearly and always try to treat your eyes with the respect they deserve. Who knows what you’ll see in the future. Do you hear what I am saying? Hear what I am saying? Hhmm…maybe we’ll talk about your ears in my next article?