Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Bill Nye Debunks Top Eye Myths

Was Bugs Bunny right? Do carrots really improve your eye sight? Well, not exactly. Eating carrots won't make you see better than you already do, but Bugs' favorite snack is packed with important vitamins and nutrients that can help protect vision.

This is just one example of a common eye myth that has led to confusion about vision health and proper eyecare habits.

To help educate Americans on eye health and debunk common myths, VSP Vision Care has created a series of webisodes called VSP EyeFiles(SM) featuring the iconic Bill Nye the Science Guy. As a scientist, engineer, comedian, author and inventor, Bill is best known for making science entertaining and accessible. His lifelong mission is to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science behind our world.

As part of this initiative, VSP Vision Care sent an online survey to VSP doctors across the country, asking them for the most common vision-related myths they hear from their patients on a regular basis.

The VSP doctor myth research survey revealed that:

  • Myth: Working many hours in front of a computer screen will harm your eyes.

    Fact: 31 percent of doctors say they hear this myth on a daily basis. Although using computers will not damage vision, fatigue, headaches, neck pain or eye strain may occur with use over extended periods of time. This overuse can result in a serious condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). To help prevent CVS remember the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away.

  • Myth: Wearing glasses tends to weaken the eyes.

    Fact: 24 percent of doctors say they hear this myth on a daily basis. Glasses do not weaken eyes. Eyes lose the ability to focus on near objects as people get older, a natural digression called presbyopia. Presbyopia, which means "old eye" in Greek, becomes noticeable between the ages of 38 and 42. The bottom line is glasses do not weaken eyes; rather eyes naturally become weaker with age.

  • Myth: Sitting too close to the television will harm your eyes.

    Fact: 11 percent of doctors say they hear this myth on a daily basis. Despite what your mother told you as a kid, sitting closer than necessary to the television may cause headaches, but will not cause eye damage.

Other alarming myths that VSP doctors heard from patients on a regular basis included:

  • Myth: As long as your eyes don't hurt, you can wear contact lenses 24/7.

    Fact: If your contacts aren't the overnight-approved, extended wear variety, don't treat them that way. Daily wear contacts need nightly soaks to clean and disinfect them. Contacts are a great alternative for lenses, but proper contact care is needed to prevent eye irritation and infection.

  • Myth: Children do not need to have their vision tested until they are at least five.

    Fact: The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends a six-month eye exam to make sure the baby's eyes are developing correctly and to scan for serious problems such as cataracts and tumors. Eighty percent of what we learn is through our eyes, and one in four students has a visual impairment problem. One study shows a whopping 85 percent of America's pre-schoolers haven't received a vision exam by age five. Experts recommend that children see their eye doctor at six months, between the ages of 2 and 3, before entering kindergarten, and annually thereafter to ensure their eye health and learning progression.

  • Myth: If you can see fine, your eyes are healthy and you don't need an exam.

    Fact: Many eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms. It is important to make annual visits to an eye doctor to receive comprehensive eye exams. Through an exam an eye doctor can detect signs of serious health conditions including diabetes, brain tumors, and high cholesterol, before physical symptoms are present.

  • Myth: You cannot get cataracts unless you wear glasses.

    Fact: Cataracts are caused by the aging and deterioration in the lens of the eyes. This is a normal process that occurs in about half of adults between the age of 65 and 75. Everyone can develop cataracts, whether or not they wear glasses; in fact, glasses can actually help postpone cataract surgery.

To view Bill Nye's VSP EyeFiles, please visit or

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