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Eye Myths and Facts… in Medicine Hat

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Myth: Seeing 20/20 vision means you have healthy eyes.

Needing glasses to see well has very little to do with the health of the eye’s tissues. Instead, it has to do with the optics of the eye. Eye health and needing glasses are very different things. It’s important to remember that 20/20 vision does not always mean healthy eyes. This is why regular eye exams with an optometrist are very important.

FACT: Children who spend more time outdoors have a reduced risk for developing nearsightedness.

Recent studies show that this is actually true. Spending time outdoors is healthy on many levels and is true for the eyes as well. It is important to remember, however, that having your child spend more time outdoors does not guarantee that they will not need glasses, but it reduces the risk by a small amount.

Myth: Reading in dim light will make your eyes worse.

This is a very common belief, but there is no evidence for this. However, reading in dim lighting makes it more difficult for us to focus on what we are reading. This can lead to excess focusing and eye strain. The eye strain we feel when this happens is like the muscle aching we may feel after visiting the gym. The strain is in the eye muscles, but it will not change your glasses prescription or make your eyes less healthy…it only makes it harder to read comfortably. For this reason, more light is better.

FACT: Eye exams for children, teens and seniors are free through Alberta Health.

Alberta Health care allows for one full eye exam every year for children under the age of 19. All you need is the health card number. Alberta Health also covers annual eye exams for seniors starting at age 65. Alberta Health does not cover the cost of glasses, but it does cover the cost of the exam. In addition, Alberta Health covers all medical eye problems that you may encounter such as eye infections, metal in the eye, or any other eye health-related problems. This eye emergency coverage is for all ages

Myth: Children are born with perfect vision.

At birth, vision is actually quite bad and over a period of a few years, the vision improves by 30 times! Having said this, it is still recommended that children get their first eye exam at 6 months of age to ensure that the eyes are aligned, that they are healthy and that their prescription is within the normal range for that age.

FACT: Children in kindergarten are entitled to a free pair of glasses.

Through a program called “Eye See Eye Learn”, children in kindergarten are eligible to receive one free pair of glasses if they are needed. This program is only available in Alberta for those who have an Alberta Health Care number.

Myth: 3-D TV is worse for your eyes than regular TV

Although more people have trouble watching 3-D television than regular TV, this is not an indication that it is worse for our eyes. 3-D TV makes us use more areas of our brain responsible for sight and encourages the use of both eyes equally and together. If people have an eye teaming or an eye coordination problem, they will feel eye strain while watching prolonged 3-D TV, but will not feel this way with a regular TV. If you or your child are experiencing eye strain while watching 3-D TV, this may be an indication of an eye teaming or coordination problem.

Myth: Wearing glasses weakens the eyes

People who have always seen well without glasses may find it difficult to read as they get older (past 40). When they see that the power of their reading glasses starts to be stronger and stronger they sometimes think that glasses have “ruined” their eyes. In reality, they are gradually going through a very normal process called presbyopia – the inability to focus the eyes for near objects.

As for nearsighted children and adults, sometimes people will feel that because their glasses prescription is changing and getting stronger over time, that their eyes are becoming weaker because of the glasses. The reality is that nearsightedness will increase whether glasses are worn or not. Nearsightedness tends to increase gradually and usually plateaus between the late teens and early ‘20s.

Myth: Sitting too close to the TV wrecks your eyes.

Sitting close to a TV is no different from looking at a computer screen. The truth is, children have a better ability to focus up close without eye strain than adults. However, sitting close to the TV may be a sign of nearsightedness. So, if your child is always sitting close to the TV and has difficulty seeing it clearly from a distance it would be wise to get their eyes checked. This myth probably developed because sitting close to the TV is a habit that nearsighted children have. Sometimes when the parents discover their child needs glasses they feel that the TV made their child’s eyes nearsighted; in reality, sitting close to the TV was just the child’s adjustment to their nearsightedness.

Written by Dr. Clark Hyde

Dr. Clark Hyde graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Optometry in 2011. While in optometry school, he completed clinical externships in both Michigan and Utah, focusing on pediatrics and ocular disease.

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At 20/20 Vision Care, we provide comprehensive vision care services, including eye exams, contact lens exams, dry eye therapy, and a wide selection of frames and lenses.

Designed specifically to best manage eye-related health concerns and disease. We also handle urgent eye care matters like foreign bodies, infections, and trauma.

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  • 431 3rd St. SE
  • Medicine Hat, Alberta
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