Most of us have grown up eating certain things or avoiding habits so we “don’t become blind.” Eat carrots or else your vision will grow blurry. Don’t sit close to the TV because your eyes will get damaged. Whether these were ploys our parents used to get us to eat more veggies or away from the TV monitor, they in fact have nothing to do with our eye health. Here, ophthalmologist Ricardo M. Papa, M.D., who specializes in diseases, laser and microsurgery of the eye, and cataract and vitreoretinal surgery, debunks age-old myths about our eye health.

“Eating carrots improves your vision.”

Generations of adults and children have grown up being told that eating carrots is a must for good eyesight. Dr. Papa says this myth probably stems from the fact that carrots contain beta-carotene. Vitamin A has been known to be good for vision, so it’s been assumed that eating carrots ultimately improve sight. “Consuming foods rich in Vitamin-A (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins) can prevent Vitamin-A deficiency, which is a leading cause of blindness, and other conditions such as cataract formation and macular degeneration,” says Papa. However, eating carrots will not improve your current visual abilities. If you are prescribed glasses for clear vision, eating carrots will not correct your eyes and eliminate your need for glasses.

“Reading in dim light is harmful to your eyes.”

Although reading regularly in dim light will probably cause eye-strain and fatigue, there is no physical harm it can do to our eyes. “The most you will feel is symptoms like headaches, double vision, dry or watery eyes and difficulty in focusing,” says Papa. To avoid this is simple—make sure to have ample lighting when you read or do paperwork.

“Sitting close to the television can damage your eyes.”

In the 1960, General Electric sold color TV sets that emitted radiation that was considered unsafe by U.S. officials, and so were recalled. The company eventually adjusted and replaced the emissions but the stigma has stuck. There has been no evidence that current televisions emit harmful radiation, so sitting close to the TV will not cause any particular damage to the eyes. This may just be an indication that the viewer is near-sighted and might need corrective lenses. However, it’s the amount of time spent in front of the television that causes eye-strain and fatigue, says Papa. “Prolonged television watching, whether at a close or far distance, may cause eye-strain and fatigue and lead to symptoms such as tearing and redness,” he adds.

“People with weak eyes should avoid reading fine print.”

Once we reach a certain age - 40 and above - the natural lens inside our eyes loses it's flexibility and subsequently prevents the eye from focusing on nearer objects. Without proper correction, these individuals will manifest with eye strain and headaches should they persist in reading material with very small fonts. The proper statement should read: People 40 and above should avoid reading fine print without the necessary corrective lenses.

The myth can also pertain to the notion that people who wear corrective lenses (people with weak eyes) will tend to wear their eyes out soonest if they perform detailed tasks such as reading fine print. Again, this is an incorrect idea because there is no necessary wear and tear of the eye with prolonged usage.

Trisha Bautista is a freelance writer, food and product stylist, social media manager, and violin teacher. She was formerly editorial assistant and social media editor for Women’s Health Philippines, and the assistant lifestyle editor and social media editor for Cosmopolitan Philippines. She enjoys discovering easy recipe hacks, working out by herself and trying out DIY workout programs, traveling outdoors, and enjoying wine and whiskey.