The year 2020 has been eventful to say the least, but one of the largely unsung events is that we are celebrating the Year of the Eye. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says "the year 2020 presents a unique opportunity to inspire people to take better care of their eyes and to educate them about the benefits of visiting an ophthalmologist."
The AAO offers these facts and myths to help you learn more about eyecare:
- Myth 1. Gazing at the sun can improve your health and vision. Fact: Staring at the sun without proper eye protection even for a short period of time can damage the retina and cause blindness.
- Myth 2. If you cross your eyes, they'll stay that way. Fact: Even though our parents and grandparents threatened us mercilessly with this notion, your eye muscles work in all directions so keeping them in one position won't force them to stay. Crossed eyes may come from muscle or nerve damage, disease, or uncorrected vision, says the AAO.
- Myth 3. Doing eye exercises will eliminate the need for glasses. Fact: Eye exercises do not improve or preserve vision, help your eye health, or reduce the need for glasses, according to Harvard Health. Your eyesight depends on many factors such as the shape of your eyeball and eye tissues that can change over time. A regular eye exam is the best way to keep your vision intact and ensure that you have the correct prescription for your eyes. No amount of exercise can substitute for expert care — or wearing glasses, if needed.
- Myth 4. Reading in dim light hurts your vision. Fact: Dim light doesn't hurt your vision, say Harvard experts. However, improper lighting will tire your eyes. It's best to read with a light shining directly onto the page and not over your shoulder. Vison experts recommend using an opaque shaded desk lamp that can be positioned directly over the reading material.
- Myth 5. Carrots are the best food for your eyes. Fact: While it's true we seldom see rabbits wearing glasses, carrots — which contain vitamin A — aren't the only super foods for your eyes. In fact, fresh fruits and dark leafy greens, which contain antioxidant vitamins such as C and E, are superior choices for eye health. Antioxidants can also help protect your eyes against cataracts and other age-related conditions like macular denegation. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in parsley and egg yolks, have been linked to a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Myth 6. Staring at a computer screen all day is bad for the eyes. Fact: While staring at a computer screen cannot damage your eyes, it can lead to eye strain and tired eyes. Experts suggest taking breaks every 20 minutes and looking at something in the distance for a few minutes to give your eyes a rest. Most people who stare at computer screens tend to blink less frequently than normal, so their eyes become dry and uncomfortable. Make a conscious effort to blink on a regular basis so that your eyes stay lubricated. Also, adjust the lighting in your work station so that it doesn't cause glare or a harsh reflection on the screen. Your monitor should be at least 18 inches away from your face, according to the AAO.
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