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Eye Care Facts and Myths

Dr. Mark Fromer -- The eyes may be the mirrors of the soul but they’re also one of the most misunderstood parts of the body. That explains why there are a lot of eye care myths.


1. Reading in dim light is harmful to your eyes.
2. It is not harmful to watch a welder or look at the sun if you squint, or look through narrowed eyelids.
3. Using a computer or video display terminal is harmful to the eyes.
4. If you use your eyes too much, you wear them out.
5. Wearing poorly-fit glasses damages your eyes.

6. Wearing poorly-fit contacts does not harm your eyes.
7. You do not need to have your eyes checked until you are in your forties.
8. Safety goggles are more trouble than they are worth.
9. It is okay to swim while wearing soft contact lenses.
10. If you cross your eyes often, you will become cross-eyed.

11. Children outgrow crossed eyes.
12. A cataract must be ripe before it can be removed.
13. Cataracts can be removed with lasers.
14. Cataracts can spread from eye to the other eye.
15. Eyes can be transplanted.


1. Although reading in dim light can make your eyes feel tired, it is not harmful.

2. Even if you squint, ultra-violet light still gets to your eyes, damaging the cornea, lens, and retina. Never watch welding without wearing the proper protection. Never look directly at an eclipse.

3. Although using a computer or video display terminal is associated with eyestrain or fatigue, it is not harmful to the eyes.

4. You can use your eyes as much as you wish, they do not wear out.

5. Although a good fit glasses is required for good vision, a poor fit does not damage your eyes.

6. Poorly fit contact lenses can be harmful to your cornea (front of your eye). Make certain your eyes are checked regularly by your ophthalmologist if you wear contact lenses.

7. There are several asymptomatic, yet treatable, eye diseases like glaucoma that can begin prior to your forties.

8. Safety goggles prevent many potentially blinding injuries every year. Keep goggles handy and use them!

9. Potentially blinding eye infections can result from swimming or using a hot tub while wearing contact lenses.

10. Cross-eyes or strabismus is usually congenital (present at birth) or may be due to eye injuries. Either way, the tiny muscles that control the eye movements are affected and one of the eyes becomes misaligned.

11. Children do not outgrow truly crossed eyes. A child whose eyes are misaligned has strabismus and can develop poor vision in one eye (a condition known as amblyopia) because the brain turns off the misaligned or lazy eye. The sooner crossed or misaligned eyes are treated, the less likely the child will have permanently impaired vision.

12. With modern cataract surgery, a cataract does not have to ripen before it is removed. When a cataract keeps you from doing the things you like or need to do, consider having it removed.

13. Cataracts cannot be removed with a laser. The cloudy lens must be removed through a surgical incision. However, after cataract surgery, a membrane within the eye may become cloudy. This membrane can be opened with laser surgery.

14. Cataracts cannot spread from eye to the other but often they develop in both eyes at the same time.

15. The eye cannot be transplanted. It is connected to the brain by the optic nerve, which cannot be reconnected once it has been detached. The cornea the clear front part of the eye can be transplanted. Surgeons often use plastic intraocular lens implants (IOLs) to replace natural lenses removed during cataract surgery.

Common misconceptions

Some people believe poor eyesight can be corrected by following certain diets or taking vitamin supplements. This is true only if your problem is caused by a vitamin deficiency. Vitamin A, for instance, is needed for night vision. People who lack this vitamin, which is found in dark green leafy and yellow vegetables and fruits can’t see well in dim light because of night blindness. This is a common problem in developing countries. But gorging on carrots and other sources of vitamin A won’t spare you the trouble of wearing eyeglasses if you need them later. Rather than help you, too much vitamin A can cause blurred vision, itchy skin, loss of appetite, hair loss, joint pains, and irregular menstruation.

How many times has your mother told you not to sit close to the TV set to avoid ruining your eyes? How many times were you told not to watch TV in the dark? TV won’t do any lasting harm to your eyes even if you sit close to it. Kids, like to be as close to the set as possible but nothing bad will come out of this habit. That’s because their eyes can easily focus whether the object is far or two inches or less away from them.

Should you worry if the room is too dark? Not really. On the contrary, people with mild cataracts may even see better in dim light. But this can cause eyestrain. To remedy this, simply adjust the set to get a better picture.

There are many common misconceptions about health. A good foundation in health science is the best guard against these, and a little logic helps. The popular beliefs are possible but no one has looked closely at them.

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Mark D. Fromer, M.D., board certified ophthalmologist in surgery and treatment of eye diseases, has the distinction of being the eye surgeon for the New York Rangers hockey team. Dr. Fromer specializes in laser vision correction procedures, lectures extensively throughout the U.S., and maintains a very active role in teaching advanced surgical techniques and laser vision correction surgery to fellow ophthalmologists. Fromer Eye Centers, with three offices in NYC, is one of only four beta sites worldwide for the latest diagnostic software developed by Heidelberg instruments for the early detection and treatment of diabetic macular edema. For more information on this and other forms of advanced vision care, visit Fromer Eye Centers.

© 2010 Dr. Mark Fromer

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