Debunking Common Eyesight Myths (Part 2)!

July 9, 2020

guest author Dr. Jeffrey Lewis featured OD in Optometry Gives Me Life campaign

Can you think of a common eyesight “fun fact” that you’ve never actually heard a doctor say? Those are what we’d call “eyesight myths” — old wives’ tales for your eyes.

Most of us have probably wondered how true they are. So today, we are going to break down some common eyesight myths and separate fact from fiction, in our second of a three-part series.

Part 2

Myth 4: Cataracts only come from our parents (i.e., they’re inherited)
Fact: Cataracts can actually be the result of both genetic and environmental factors. According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are the 2nd leading cause of vision impairment or blindness, behind only uncorrected refractive error. Fortunately, developments in technology have made cataract surgery incredibly safe, and approximately 98% of patients will experience improved vision if no other eye conditions are present.

A cataract can be defined as an opacity of the crystalline lens. There are a surprising number of different types of cataracts, but for the most part, they can be broadly divided in to two categories: 1) congenital, and 2) acquired.

Congenital cataracts can be inherited but may also develop because of infections, metabolic diseases, trauma, inflammation, or even drug reactions.

Age-related cataracts are the most common form of acquired cataracts. Both genetic and environmental factors can cause age-related cataracts. Since we don’t have a natural cure for age-related cataracts yet, it’s important we take preventive measures. We can decrease the risk of developing age-related cataracts by making healthy lifestyle choices like not smoking, limiting alcohol use, and managing health problems. Other healthy habits include eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, wearing sunglasses outdoors, and, of course, getting annual comprehensive eye examinations.

Myth 5: Over-the-counter glasses are good enough
Fact: It probably comes as no surprise over-the-counter glasses (or OTC glasses) aren’t the best glasses you can get in terms of physical appeal or prescription quality. These types of glasses will not hurt your vision, but they most likely will prevent your visual system from functioning at their highest levels.

For starters, most people have far-from-perfect distance vision, and reading glasses only help your near vision. During your annual eye examination, your local Doctor of Optometry can help determine if you are also struggling with your distance vision. There are quite a few ways to treat these challenges, with lined bifocals, lined trifocals, and progressives being the most commonly prescribed solutions.

Most patients don’t have equal vision in their eyes, and OTC readers assume you do, so each of your eyes has the potential of being significantly over or under corrected. And yes, most people will need reading glasses because of their naturally aging crystalline lenses, but don’t forget to see your local optometrist to be sure the changes that are occurring to your vision are not something more menacing.

Myth 6: Only go to the eye doctor when there’s a problem
Fact: How do you know when there’s a problem? Most problems that your eyes can have don’t result in pain or vision loss until you’ve waited too long. The only way to get ahead of a problem is to have annual comprehensive eye exams.

For example, there’s a condition called macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 50, as well as the most common cause of blindness in the Western world. The back of the eye has a thin sensory layer called the retina. The retina is loaded with photoreceptors, which are light-sensing cells. The macula contains the highest density of these photoreceptors and is responsible for our incredibly detailed central vision. When these cells deteriorate, it affects the quality of the images collected. This translates in blurry, distorted, or even permanently lost vision. There are three main stages for Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD): 1) Mild AMD, 2) Intermediate AMD, and 3) Advanced AMD. Most people do not experience vision loss during the Mild stage, so this stage is critical for diagnosis because there is no cure for AMD.

Your local Doctor of Optometry is capable of detecting and treating many diseases like this, so make sure to see them annually so they can help you (and your eyes) stay in tip-top shape!

Did you know the truth about these myths before reading? Or was I able to shed some light (ha!) on how our eyes work?

Share this article with someone and stay tuned for the next part in our three-part series!
Jeffrey Lewis, O.D.