As a child, were you told not to sit too close to the television?
“It will damage your eyes,” your parents might’ve said.
What about trying on a friend’s glasses at school?
Many of you will probably have been warned against doing that, too.
But an eye specialist has debunked these ubiquitous notions so often bandied around.
Apparently, they’re common myths, and there are different things we should be worried about when trying to protect our eyesight.
A new study by Optegra Eye Sciences of 2,000 people suggests that more than half of us think they’re true.
More than 50 per cent think wearing someone else’s glasses will hurt their eyes, for example, and 47 per cent believe sitting too close to the TV will have a harmful effect.
“Although there is no evidence to suggest that these are anything but old wives’ tales, what is true is that people need to be aware of what does and doesn’t have an impact on their eye health in order to avoid long term vision problems,” says Dr Clare O’Donnell, Head of Optegra Eye Sciences and registered optometrist.
Luckily, she has some helpful advice to keep your eyes in good shape…
About 61 per cent of respondents to the study admitted to staring at a computer screen for extended periods without a break.
It’s not the screen that’s damaging, or sitting close to it – it’s not taking a break for prolonged timesframes.
According to Dr O’Donnell, we reduce the amount we blink when looking at a screen, and that leads to dry eyes, and can be damaging. “It’s crucial to take regular breaks from close-distance focusing – and remember to blink properly,” she says.
Research found that a significant proportion of us worry about our eyes, yet many don’t care for them properly.
One thing that those who wear makeup should do is to remember to take it off before going to bed, and to not share products with friends due to cross contamination.
Around 17 per cent of contact lens wearers admitted to Dr O’Donnell that they sometimes wore them to bed. And many others used month-long lens for far longer.
Dr O’Donnell warns: “We understand that with busy lifestyles, some practices fall by the wayside – but hygiene shouldn’t be one of them.
“So we need to remove eye make up at night, not share our eye make up and avoid touching our eyes without washing and drying our hands.”
Harsh sunlight can be hugely damaging to our eyes, according to Dr O’Donnell.
Apparently, just 36 per cent of people in the study realised than sunglasses aren’t just for vanity and being able to see better in sunlight, but also for health.
Dr O’Donnell explained: “We must never underestimate the dangerous effects of the sun on our sight.”
Dr O’Donnell mentions that an unhealthy lifestyle can do damage to our eyes, just as it might our hearts, lungs, and skin. Around 70 per cent of GPs believe that smoking is a major cause of eye problems.
Drinking excessive alcohol and maintaining a poor diet will also have a negative impact, according to medical practitioners.
Eating foods such as blueberries, leafy vegetables and oily fish can help keep eyes in good shape.
“Aside from practising a healthy lifestyle, it is important to ensure we have regular eye tests,” the eye specialist says.
“These are vital to detecting early signs of potential problems and should be attended at least every two years unless advised otherwise.”