There are many conditions that can affect a person’s eyesight – and many misconceptions about eye health.
According to Dr. Brian Kane, an optometrist at Kane & Figler Optometry in Highland Heights; Dr. Bianca Kostranchuk, an optometrist at Chardon and Chesterland Family Eyecare in Chardon and Chester Township; and Kevin Kretch, owner and licensed optician at Eyes on Chagrin in Woodmere, eye health misconceptions can run the gamut.
Some misconceptions are encountered more than others, Kretch said.
“The most common one is people don’t feel they need to get eye exams because they see fine,” he said. “There are a couple of problems with that. If your prescription changes a little bit, you can still see fine but you definitely won’t be seeing any better. A lot of people don’t realize that eye exams monitor the health of the eye. Conditions can come on pretty randomly without much notice, even if you don’t realize the problems are there.
“It’s like dental exams, you go every so often for cleaning. You don’t only go in when you feel like a cavity is growing. It’s for preventative measures, not when it’s too late.”
Kretch said if people wait too long to go in for an exam, it can have adverse effects.
“If someone doesn’t have any issues with their eyes, why would they think something is wrong?” Kretch asked. “It starts with the eye exam. They may say everything looks good, but they should still come back regularly. For people who don’t have an exam history, they don’t have anything to go off up to that point.”
Kane said the most common misconception he hears is wearing glasses makes your eyes weaker.
“That is the farthest from the truth,” Kane explained. “Glasses allow you to see clearer. But the reason it seems like that is because when we turn 35 or 40, our eyes’ ability to focus on an object up close becomes more challenging and inconsistent because of muscle fatigue and the hardening of a focusing lens in the eye. So, regardless of wearing glasses or not, that allows the muscles to relax so you have less eye strain and headaches.
“But, since the muscles are relaxing when the glasses are on, everything seems blurry at first when the glasses come off. Common sense would lead you down the path that it makes your eyes weaker, but in reality, it just makes it more comfortable to see.”
Kostranchuk touched on the vision misconception that the general public hears the most - how carrots can help one’s eyesight.
“You always hear, ‘To get your eyes healthier, you should eat a ton of carrots,’” she noted. “We do get a lot of patients asking about that because of their desire to help their vision. But, that is a total misconception and I don’t even know how that started. Yes, carrots do have a lot of nutrients that are healthy for you in general. But, the most important nutritional advice we can give clients is to eat dark, leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach.”
Kostranchuk said many misconceptions are spread through word-of-mouth.
“A lot of things stem from the fact a patient hears something in their appointment that applies to them specifically, and share that as fact for everyone,” she said. “But, what is true for one person isn’t true for the next. Also, this can happen when Googling something. Google is never a good place to start.”
Kane said it’s because eyes are “the most commonly talked about organ of the body.”
“It’s because we can assess our vision and we think we can assume that since we can see, our eyes are fine,” he explained. “But, it is also a scary thought because you only get two of them. So, this can create a lot of misconceptions. It’s easy to assume things that seem real to us because we can see them.”
But to combat conflicting information or misconceptions, a visit to the eye doctor is a good place to start.
“When I’m checking out a patient for their exam, I ask them if they want to schedule next year’s appointment,” Kretch stated. “It’s all up to the patient and it’s not something I can do for them. But, for me, I know that every March and October is when I get my teeth cleaned. So, for the patient, when it becomes a routine, it’s easier to do it.”
Kane added, “Have an open mind to new information. Patients should consider that their understanding (of eye health) is not exactly what they thought.”
Kostranchuk suggested patients then take that information and share it with others.
“It’s up to the patient that if they hear something in the community to share their experience and story,” she said. “People are more likely to relate when they hear it from someone in the community. It’s about giving our patient information and then them sharing that.”