By Jennifer Davidson
As an eye doctor, I hear many myths relating to eye health. Today I sit down with local optometrist, Shiow Huoy, and we discuss our patients’ common questions and misconceptions.
Will I become dependent on glasses, or will my prescription increase if I continue wearing them?
No. Studies actually show the opposite. In fact, by not wearing your full prescription you may further damage your eyes. Under-correction can lead to worsening of myopia (near sighted) and in children below 8 years of age uncorrected vision can result in amblyopia (lazy eye) which may become permanent. Your eyes grow throughout childhood and even adulthood, hence your increasing prescription, but the greatest contributing factors are usually due to genetics and how you use your eyes daily. It is important to keep a healthy distance between near work and eyes, especially for children – try holding your material the same distance between your elbow and hands.
Can I extend the life of my contact lenses if they are still comfortable?
This is a common, yet very dangerous mistake made by patients. By extending the lens life, your eyes are being deprived of oxygen. This can increase the chance of infection which may lead to expensive visits and medications, scarring and even blindness. Over time you also run the risk of your eyes slowly rejecting the contacts. Do not bend the rules on this one – your eye care professional knows best.
Will eye exercises help to slow or reduce my power?
General eye exercises will not have an effect on your prescription; however, vision therapy is important for those with certain muscular or focusing abnormalities. Visual improvement has also been seen in patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries or other neurological conditions, such as strokes. Sports vision therapy is now adopted by many competitive athletes to increase overall hand-eye coordination and reaction time, but under the strict prescription of a trained eye specialist.
What are the best sources of nutrition for my eyes?
When it comes to your eyes, choose foods high in antioxidants, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Top food sources of antioxidants are leafy, green vegetables, like kale, spinach and local morning glory. Berries and beans are also a great source. Favorite fruits, like oranges, berries, and bananas are rich in vitamins – try Singapore Rojak, containing pineapple, apple, cucumber and other vegetables. Your body most efficiently derives omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish, such as tuna, sardines, mackerel and salmon. Flax seeds and nuts can be a decent alternative to fish.
My vision is fine, do I even need an eye exam?
Two common causes of blindness globally are diabetic eye disease and glaucoma. Neither cause noticeable reduction in vision until very late in the disease, by which time treatment becomes very difficult. In fact, patients with advanced glaucoma that are close to losing their vision can have 20/20 vision. This is because their central vision is lost only in the late stages of the disease. Good vision does not equal disease-free eyes, so comprehensive eye exams that include scans of the retina and optic nerve, which are affected by these two conditions, are essential for protecting your vision.
Is my screen time ruining my eyes?
There are general guidelines for more comfortable vision while using electronic devices. Follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This relaxes the accommodative muscles in your eyes that allow you to have clear near vision. Also, make a conscious effort to blink to freshen the tear film. When we concentrate, especially when using a screen, we blink less which increases dry eye symptoms.
Is all blue light bad?
We get an almost constant exposure to blue light with today’s dependency on our smart phones and tablets. Studies show it can negatively affect our circadian rhythm if we use it too late in the day; however, not all blue light is bad. The sun is the greatest source of blue light, which helps us function and stay alert during the day. Consider blue blocking lenses for use in the evening, or all day on the computer. Also, limit your screen time to a couple of hours before going to bed.
Shiow Huoy Cheong received her BSc in Optometry with Honours from Queensland University of Technology in Australia. She has a background in hospital-based optometry, lecturing, and a passion for myopia management and general eye health. She currently practices at Just Eyes, Singapore.