Every day, we see so many amazing things (a sky full of stars, a child’s funny faces, spring blooms), so it’s easy to take vision for granted. But the act of seeing is an incredible physical process — in fact, out of all the muscles in your body, the ones that control your eyes are the most active and it takes about half of your brain to get involved!
As a parent, you start to see eyes differently. Your child’s bright eyes can show so much emotion, from the widest smiles to the biggest cries (but did you know that newborns don’t actually produce tears? Although they certainly do their share of crying, tears don’t start flowing until around four to 13 weeks).
To close out Healthy Vision Month, we sorted through the myths and facts about your eyes.
If you cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way forever.
FALSE! We’ve all heard parents tell their kids that their funny faces and crossed eyes will freeze like that forever. But, sorry, mom and dad: there’s no scientific backing for that long-held theory.
Carrots really are good for your eyes.
TRUE! Bugs Bunny sure must have amazing vision, because this is absolutely true. Eating carrots every day won’t suddenly give someone with poor eyesight 20/20 vision. But carrots and other foods like sweet potatoes, are high in beta carotene, which converts to Vitamin A, a valuable nutrient in promoting good eye health.
If you wear glasses too much, your eyes will get “dependent” on them.
FALSE! A lot of people think of eyes as muscles—that working them out regularly will promote good eye fitness, and on the flip side, that making things too easy for them (ie. wearing glasses) will make them weak.
Fortunately, it’s not true. Eyes benefit from wearing glasses (hello, you can see!) and there’s no scientific proof that they’ll use that extra help as a crutch.
Sitting too close to the TV will damage your eyes.
FALSE! Back in the 1960s, GE made a television that emitted heavy doses of radiation, so parents started to warn kids not to sit too close. But in reality nowadays, ophthalmologists seem to agree that there’s actually no physical harm done to the eyes by sitting too close to the TV.
Yes, excessive TV watching can cause temporary eye strain and fatigue, and of course, there are other reasons why you should limit kids’ TV watching. But the vision claim itself is just not scientifically sound.
Staring directly at the sun can make you go blind.
TRUE! While complete blindness may be overstated, it’s true that staring directly into the sun’s harsh rays can cause serious damage to your eyes and create blind spots. The medical term for it is solar retinopathy. Think of it like the sun’s rays traveling through a magnifying glass (your eye’s lens) and burning a permanent hole.
We know the sun is pretty, but remind kids not to stare!