Separating fact from fiction when it comes to looking after your eyes
Australian eye specialists dispel common misconceptions about eyes and vision.
Clinical Professor Stephanie Watson wants people to make more informed choices when it comes to their eyes, because the long-term ramifications of some decisions can be significant. She will appear on Network Ten’s ‘Studio 10’ program tomorrow at 9am to help separate fact from fiction, and will be available online to take questions after the segment.
Prof Watson is a practicing ophthalmologist, head of the Ocular Repair Research Group at the Save Sight Institute in Sydney and chair of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) Public Health Committee.
“Vision is something that most people take for granted, until it is at risk or they start to lose it” said Professor Watson. “Supporting initiatives that prevent vision loss and blindness by raising awareness is a key priority for both the Save Sight Institute and RANZCO, and as an eye doctor I’d certainly like to see fewer patients coming to see me with vision loss that could have been prevented.”
Thanks to years of dedicated eye research, much of it via Sydney’s own Save Sight Institute, we now know more about the extremely complex ocular system which produces human vision. Despite this, many people continue to believe things they were taught years ago, even though much of the advice is now known to be incorrect.
“Most people have no idea that constantly rubbing their eyes can cause irreparable damage” said the Professor who regularly treats people with keratoconus, a condition exacerbated or caused by chronic eye rubbing leading to reduced vision and discomfort over time.
“I’ve come across many patients who think that spectacles weaken their eye muscles, or that keeping contact lenses moist in water or saliva is a practical solution” she said. “I regularly hear that sunglasses are just for fashion, that eating carrots can fix bad sight and that looking at a computer screen is dangerous. There is a lot of misinformation circulating and people are inadvertently making choices they later come to regret.”
Some of the things people should understand about their eyes include:
- Wearing wrap-around sunglasses with UV filter and a broad-brimmed hat reduces your risk of serious eye conditions such as painful corneal inflammation, retinal damage, cataracts, eye cancer and pterygium.
- Rubbing your eyes can lead to keratoconus, an eye condition which warps the cornea and affects vision.
- While carrots won’t make you see better, they are one of the many sources of Vitamin A which is essential for your vision and keeping your eyes healthy.
- Storing contact lenses in tap water or saliva can cause serious eye infections which lead to permanent damage and vision loss. Pools and spas are also problematic for contact lens wearers.
- Wearing spectacles will not weaken your eye muscles or make your eyesight worse.
- In most cases, using a computer or device will not damage your eyes, as long as you remember to blink often to avoid the discomfort of dry eyes.
- Using an iPad itself will not harm your child’s eyes. Spending too much time doing up-close tasks and indoors, however may contribute to short-sightedness or eye turn (strabismus).
“The good news is that with the right information, people can give themselves the best chance to see the future” said Professor Watson. “We are all living longer, which comes with a range of healthcare implications. Making the right decisions today can have a huge impact on our lives in years to come.”
Professor Stephanie Watson will appear on Studio 10 (Network 10) tomorrow at 9am to address these and other common questions around eyesight.
Additional questions can be submitted via the Save Sight Institute website www.savesightinstitute.org.au/askus
Further details on common eye myths and how to protect your eyes can be found at www.ranzco.edu
Save Sight Institute
Mobile: 0404 452 698
Public Health Liaison Officer
Phone (02) 9690 1001