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Debunking Vision Myths: These Claims Are Lying To You

Imagine it's a sweltering Saturday afternoon and you are craving a refreshing snack. There are two options in front of you: a container of carrots and a popsicle. Just as you begin to reach for the popsicle, a voice in your head urges you to pick the carrots because it will help with improving your eyesight. In fact, society has established many "dos" and "don'ts" regarding vision and eye care, yet a handful of these claims are either exaggerated or merely myths that have been curated as a parenting tactic or Mandela effect. This begs the question of the validity of vision claims such as whether eating carrots can improve eyesight.


To begin with, the vision claim linking carrots to perfect vision is difficult to debunk because it is both true and false. While carrots do indeed contain a sufficient amount of beta-carotene and vitamin A that is extremely beneficial to the eyes, a consistent diet of carrots will not cure blindness or improve overall vision acuity. Another widespread misconception that has certainly induced fears is the idea that when you cross your eyes, they will stay that way forever. Now, debunking this claim requires an exploration of the lazy eye to understand the difference between voluntary eye crossing and irreversibly crossed eyes. Lazy eye, also known as amblyopia, is a common cause of vision impairment that often results in the eyes appearing to be crossed or disoriented due to the brain's loss of control in the weaker eye. However, if you don't have amblyopia, involuntary eye crossing will not lead to permanently crossed eyes because your eye muscles will still maintain control over eye movement


In addition, many people believe that sitting farther from a TV screen can prevent damage to the eyes. However, this is not implicitly true because excessive screen staring or high stimulant exposure only results in eye fatigue and strains, rather than harm to the eyes and much less permanent impairment. For example, upon removing the 3-D glasses after watching a three-dimensional film, you may experience eye strains as your eyes are trying to get used to the natural light after being disconnected from it for long periods. In short, your vision isn't actively worsening, and there is no evidence that staring at a screen causes damage to the eyes. 


Moreover, apart from the false beliefs about vision impairment, there are also myths revolving around eye genetics and biological influences such as the idea that parents with brown eyes can't have a blue-eyed baby. While there is some hereditary influence on a baby's eye colour, there are many additional factors that come into play. According to the Journal of Human Genetics, modern research illustrates that eye colour does not follow the common path of inheritance. Through a process known as recessive gene recombination, this genetic aberration results in a blue-eyed child born to two brown-eyed parents due to the parents' "heterozygous" makeup, which includes both a dominant brown-eyed gene and a blue-eyed gene. Nonetheless, eye colour can also be altered by certain eye disorders such as ocular albinism and heterochromia


In conclusion, from carrot super-vision to genetically modified babies, we are constantly being exposed to various vision claims. However, it is important to identify and distinguish between true claims and those that are more or less false, as it prevents false claims from spreading and ensures that the ophthalmology community is credited for its diagnosis and research. At the end of the day, as the American educator Edith Hamilton quotes, "Myths are the early science, the result of men's first trying to explain what they saw around them."

 

Sources:

"Do Carrots Actually Improve Eyesight?" Gailey Eye Clinic, https://gaileyeyeclinic.com/carrots-actually-improve-eyesight/. Karimi, Soroush. “Common Eye Myths Debunked | Resource Center." Milan Eye Center, https://www.milaneyecenter.com/resources/common-eye-myths-debunked/. "20 Eye and Vision Myths." American Academy of Ophthalmology, 28 March 2022, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/common-eye-vision-myths-facts. White, Désirée, and Montserrat Rabago-Smith. "Genotype-phenotype associations and human eye color." Journal of Human Genetics, 14 October 2010, https://www.nature.com/articles/jhg2010126.

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