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Posted on Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Seperate fact from fiction when it comes to eye health

By Ask Dr. K


I've heard so much advice on keeping your eyes healthy. Can you help me sort it out?


Not all of the advice you've heard about eye health is true. Here are some common myths:

Myth: Doing eye exercises will delay the need for glasses.

Fact: Eye exercises will not improve or preserve vision or reduce the need for glasses.

Myth: Reading in dim light will worsen your vision.

Fact: Dim lighting will not negatively affect your eyesight. However, it will tire your eyes more quickly. Position your reading light so that it shines directly onto the page, not over your shoulder.

Myth: Eating carrots is good for the eyes.

Fact: Carrots are good for the eyes. But fresh fruits and dark-green leafy vegetables are even better. However, no vegetables or nutrients will prevent or correct basic vision problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Myth: It's best not to wear glasses all the time. Taking a break from glasses allows your eyes to rest.

Fact: If you need glasses for distance or reading, use them. Using your glasses won't worsen your vision or lead to any eye disease.

Myth: A sudden, temporary loss of vision is not a serious problem if it lasts just a minute or two.

Fact: Even a brief loss of vision, in just one eye, can be a sign of a serious problem. You should always call your doctor immediately. It may be caused by something as simple as a migraine headache (that happened to me once). However, it also can be a warning sign that a stroke may be coming. This is called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, or pre-stroke. And it can be an early sign of multiple sclerosis.

Myth: Staring at a computer screen all day is bad for the eyes.

Fact: Using a computer won't harm your eyes. But it can contribute to eyestrain or tired eyes. Adjust lighting so that there's no glare or harsh reflection on the screen. And rest your eyes briefly every hour or so to lessen eye fatigue. Finally, make sure to blink regularly so that your eyes don't dry out.

We have more information on keeping your eyes healthy in our Special Health Report, "The Aging Eye: Preventing and Treating Eye Disease." You can find out more about it at my website.

As you get older, get regular eye exams. Don't wait until your vision deteriorates to get your eyes examined.

Finally, if you smoke, stop. Smoking increases the risk of several eye disorders.

(Dr. Komaroff is a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School. Go to his website to send questions and get additional information:

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