Today, 23 March, is World Optometry Day; it’s a day to recognise the wonderful work optometrists do to keep our eyes healthy.
It’s also a good time to shine a spotlight on eye health, so we’ve taken this opportunity to debunk some common eye health myths and share some tips on how to maintain good vision for life.
Myth: Eye exercises will improve your vision
Unfortunately we can’t head to the gym to build our eye strength!
There is no formal evidence to show eye exercises improve your vision, however some exercises are useful when it comes to resting our eyes - one of which is the 20/20/20 rule, explained in greater detail below.
Tip: Giving your eyes a break from screens
It’s hard to imagine our lives without some form of screen, be that a smartphone, laptop or TV amongst others.
Naturally, our eyes focus on objects more than six meters away so they are actively working to focus on screens which are much closer. This can lead to exhaustion. According to Optometry Australia's 2020 Vision Index 78 per cent of Australians have experienced eye strain while using a computer, tablet or smartphone.
We recommend following the 20/20/20 rule by taking a 20 second break every 20 minutes and focusing on an object 20 feet away (six metres) to let your eyes rest. While this won’t improve your vision, it will stop your eyes becoming tired and sore.
Myth: Wearing glasses will improve your vision
Glasses are an essential tool for many Australians to see clearly. On average 66 per cent of Australians wear prescription glasses. Despite what you may have heard, glasses only improve our ability to see while we are wearing them and have no impact on the quality of our actual vision for the better, or for the worse.
This is because glasses work by adjusting the way light enters the eye, correcting the internal focal point; they do not modify the structure of the eye.
Tip: Regular eye examinations
Our eyes change over time and many Australians with prescription glasses may notice they need their lenses adjusted to maintain clear vision. Leaving this for too long can result in eye strain. It’s like looking through glasses which were made for someone else!
Regular trips to the optometrist is the best way to maintain healthy vision.
If you haven’t seen an optometrist for a while then please use our Find an Optometrist search function and schedule a visit today.
Myth: Staring at the sun is good for your health
The practice of sun gazing has grown in popularity over the last decade, with gurus and spiritual healers advocating for its health benefits. While there is a great deal of unknown surrounding this practice, we know that staring at the sun can be incredibly damaging for our eyes. It can result in retinal damage and permanent vision loss if exposure is prolonged. It is not recommended.
Tip: Being sun smart
As mentioned, the sun can cause significant damage to our eyes. Even if we’re not staring straight at it there can still be negative effects.
Wearing a hat and polarised sunglasses when outside will ensure your eyes are well protected from harmful UV rays. Don’t forget that even on cloudy days UV can be high, so despite what your weather app says, always be prepared.
Myth: Eating carrots will improve your vision
Almost 1 in 3 Aussie adults (31 per cent) believe that eating carrots will improve their vision; it’s a tale which stretches back several generations to a propaganda campaign by the British Royal Air Force in WWII.
Carrots do contain a heap of good vitamins and minerals so they’re not completely wrong, but carrots are only one component of a healthy nutrition plan to promote good eye health.
Tip: Eating well is essential
Eating a diverse range of food with high levels of antioxidants is essential to maintain healthy eyes.
Fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts and fish all contain nutrients which should be incorporated into your diet. Read more about the best foods for eye health here.
Follow these tips and you’ll give yourself every chance of maintaining good vision for life.