6 myths about your vision – and the facts

By HBF

4 minutes

12 August 2021

A young woman trying on glasses and smiling

Does wearing glasses weaken your eyes? Will eye exercises make them stronger? An OPSM optometrist unravels some common myths about our eyesight.

Our vision does so much for us, allowing us to navigate the world with confidence, perform at our best, and connect with the people and beautiful things around us.

That’s why looking after our sight is so important. But like with any area of our health, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about what’s really best for our eyesight, and what could harm it.

We talked to Elizabeth Kodari, an optometrist at OPSM, to untangle myth from fact.

Myth 1: Wearing glasses or contacts will weaken your eyes

There’s a common misconception that wearing corrective lenses too much will make your eyes dependent on them.

“Wearing glasses or contact lenses does not weaken our eyes,” Kodari says. “When we wear glasses, our eye muscles can relax and work naturally.”

Eyesight often gets worse with age, which is why some people mistakenly think glasses are making their eyes weaker – but Kodari emphasises that lenses are not the cause.

Some people also notice that their vision seems blurrier than usual right after removing their glasses or contacts. Kodari says this is not a sign of vision worsening, just our eyes readjusting.

“As glasses and contact lenses both work to correct our vision, when they are removed our eyes need to readjust and regain focus,” she says. “This can cause the contrasting blurriness to appear more noticeable.”

Myth 2: Eating carrots improves your vision

“From a young age we are often told that the more carrots we eat, the better our eyesight,” Kodari says. “However, this is not entirely true.”

There is some good advice in this myth. Carrots are a natural source of vitamin A, which does help support healthy eyes, Kodari explains – but they’re not a magic vision food.1

For good eye health, experts suggest focusing on a healthy, balanced diet, rich in nutrients such as:

  • Vitamins A, C and E (found in lots of colourful fruits and vegetables)
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin (found particularly in leafy greens)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (found in foods like fish, nuts and seeds and avocado)1

Myth 3: Eye exercises will stop me from needing glasses

Doing eye exercises – like focusing on objects at different distances – can help reduce eye strain and digital fatigue, but there is no evidence they can actually improve your vision, Kodari says.2

“We are unable to reverse the effects of ageing on our eye’s natural lens or change the shape of our eyeball to stop us from needing glasses,” she explains.

“However, it is a good idea to exercise your eyes to improve their comfort.

"When using digital devices, every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break from your screen and focus on an object far away to help your eyes relax and adjust focus.”

Myth 4: 20/20 means perfect vision

In Australia, we use the term 6/6 rather than 20/20, as the numbers refer to distance (six metres versus 20 feet).3 This is a measure of visual acuity, or how clear your vision is, based on a standard letter chart.

“6/6 is considered ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ distance vision – it’s what the average person can see from six metres away,” Kodari explains.

“The goal of glasses or contacts is usually to bring people’s eyesight as close to this as possible.”

That means many people do have better than 6/6 vision.3 “It’s also possible to have 6/6 vision and still need glasses – for example, you could have ideal distance vision but need reading glasses for near vision.”

Myth 5: It’s a waste of money to get glasses from the optometrist

It might be cheaper and easier to grab a pair of over-the-counter reading glasses from the chemist or online, but experts recommend seeing an optometrist to make sure you have the correct prescription.4

“One size does not fit all when it comes to your vision,” Kodari says. “Not wearing the correct prescription can have a significant impact on your daily lifestyle.

"For example, if your reading glasses are too strong, this may cause headaches and eyestrain.”

An optometrist will also consider factors like the position of your eyes, the distance between your pupils and the fit of the frames, which can also impact your vision and eye comfort.

If you have extras cover that includes optical, you can get benefits back on prescription glasses and contacts, helping you manage the costs.

Plus, your optometrist will check your eye health as well as your vision – which is particularly important as you get older.5

Myth 6: I can see fine – I don’t need to have eye checks

Even if you’ve never had any vision problems before, experts say it’s important to have regular eye checks.6

“We recommend seeing an optometrist every two years, even if you do not have any symptoms,” Kodari says.

This is especially important if you’re over 40, have a family history of eye conditions, or if you have diabetes.6

“Eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration – two of the leading causes of blindness – may develop without any symptoms, particularly in their early stages.

“Detecting these conditions early gives you the best chance of preventing vision loss.”5

Take a look at HBF optical cover

See clearly and look great. With HBF extras, you can get 100% back on prescription glasses and contacts, up to your annual limit.

Find out more

Sources:
1What’s cooking good looking – Good Vision for Life (Optometry Australia) (2020)
2Vision training not proven to make vision sharper – American Academy of Ophthalmology (2017)
3Can you have better than 20/20 vision? – Good Vision for Life (Optometry Australia) (2021)
4 Is it okay to buy glasses from the chemist or service station? – Good Vision for Life (Optometry Australia) (2021)
5The ageing eye conditions you need to know about – Centre for Eye Research Australia (2020)
6Booking an eye test – Vision Initiative

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Disclaimer:

This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.