Alamo Optometry Blog

October 1, 2008

Myth Busters

Filed under: Vision Care Tips — Tags: — admin @ 11:17 pm

(As appeared in Alamo Today October 2008 edition, pg.27)

I thought for this month’s article I would tackle some everyday questions and myths regarding the eyes and eye care and help set the record straight. Let’s see how many you can get right.

TRUE/FALSE: The eye, and retina in particular, can reveal many effects of both prescription drugs and systemic diseases.

Answer: True. The retina is the only place in the body where blood vessels can be directly observed without an invasive procedure. It can give a very good indicator of the status and medical control of systemic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. In addition, some medications can also cause some harmful consequences in the eye, which need to me monitored. Some of these include tamoxifen (for breast cancer), some heart medications, and prednisone. That’s why it is very important to let your eye doctor know what medications you are taking to make sure they are not affecting your eyes.

TRUE/FALSE: I don’t want to start wearing my glasses because they will only make my eyes worse.

Answer: False. Before you have any type of vision correction, your brain is used to seeing blurry because it has nothing else to compare it to. When you do get glasses, your brain is then presented with a clear image. If you then remove your glasses, it appears that your vision is worse. Now that your brain knows what it should be seeing, your vision prior now appears much worse, even though your prescription has not changed. Keep in mind, everything else being equal, if your prescription is going to change, it will change regardless of how much you wear your glasses.

TRUE/FALSE: Contact lenses are labeled as medical devices.

Answer: True. Federal law requires an annual examination to renew your contact lens prescription. Regardless of how your vision or comfort is with your contacts, after 12 months the prescription expires. This has caused some frustration with patients, as they don’t understand why they can’t just order more contacts. For eye and corneal health and to ensure the contacts are not causing any detriment to the eye, it was federally mandated a few years ago that annual exams would be necessary.

TRUE/FALSE: Reading in the dark will hurt the eyes.

Answer: False. Although reading in the dark will add some strain and possibly be uncomfortable, it does not cause any damage to the eyes. Having good light enables you to see easier and generally causes less fatigue while reading.

TRUE/FALSE: You get cataracts and glaucoma when you are elderly.

Answer: True and False. Cataracts are a completely normal part of the aging process. As you age, cataracts begin to develop and gradually decrease vision and increase glare. In comparison, glaucoma is more likely as you age, but you do not get glaucoma just because you are older. It thankfully only affects about 4-5% of the population, and your likelihood increases as you age. Cataracts are a normal process; glaucoma is a disease and is not.

TRUE/FALSE: Gray tinted lenses are better for sun protection than any other color.

Answer: False. The color of the lens makes no difference. It is the UV filter in the lenses that blocks the harmful rays from the sun. A tinted lens lets just as much UV light through to your eyes than a clear lens. All lenses should either be made of a UV-blocking material (polycarbonate), be polarized, or have a UV coating applied to the lenses.

TRUE/FALSE: Eating carrots can improve eye health.

Answer: True. Carrots will help maintain eye health, not improve vision. Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is very important in the health and functioning of the retina. Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness in under-developed countries. So eating carrots will not help you see better, but maintain overall eye health.

TRUE/FALSE: Only males can be colorblind.

Answer: False. It is much more likely for a male to be color blind than a female, but it is not impossible for a female. Since this condition is X-linked, both X chromosomes need to carry the gene for a woman to be colorblind. Since males only have 1 X chromosome, if it is on that chromosome, that male will be colorblind.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 925-820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo.

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