Vision & Reading Glasses Myths

Which common vision and glasses myths are fact or fiction? Test your glasses genius by taking our mini-quiz — and find a full explanation for each statement below.

Looking for more? Get an eyeful with these eye doctor myths!

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Which vision and reading glasses myths are true or false? Find out!




Reading glasses cause vision to get worse over time: False

Wearing reading glasses will not cause your eyesight to grow worse; glasses are simply an aid to improve vision. Many who can easily see items at a close distance without glasses may find they cannot do so as they age — usually up-close vision starts to deteriorate around age 40. As you grow older and need stronger lens prescriptions or “powers,” you might assume that the glasses themselves have made your eyes worse over time. In reality, you might be experiencing a condition called presbyopia, which is the inability to focus on near objects due to the aging of the eye. Another possible cause of this myth? Many people live with incorrect vision for years before they get glasses. After they finally get glasses and can see clearly, some claim their vision is worse because they can no longer see without them. Bottom line: Glasses do not weaken eyesight.

If you wear glasses, not wearing them will cause your vision to deteriorate faster: False

If you’re a reading glasses-wearer, the side effects of not wearing them might be similar to looking through a fishbowl. Everything seems out of focus, distorted, or blurry. Trying to focus without glasses will not make your vision deteriorate faster, but it can lead to eyestrain or excessive squinting, which could cause unpleasant symptoms such as headaches or eye irritation. The primary effects of not wearing your glasses when you’re supposed to is temporary and, at most, will cause discomfort. If you do not currently own reading glasses and find yourself squinting at up-close objects and reading materials, be sure to talk with an eye doctor.

Over-the-counter glasses can hurt your eyes: False

Using over-the-counter (OTC) reading glasses from the pharmacy or online  — versus buying reading glasses from your optometrist or ophthalmologist — will not hurt your eyes. While they can be much less expensive than a pair from your eye doctor, OTC reading glasses contain magnifying lenses at different levels that work just as well. Just make sure to choose the right reading glasses prescription for your eyes before buying a pair from the pharmacy or online; wearing over-the-counter glasses with too weak or too strong of a prescription could cause eyestrain and be bothersome, but it will not cause long-term damage to your vision. For more pros and cons of buying glasses in-store, online, or at the eye doctor, click here.

Wearing reading glasses makes your eyes stronger: False

Wearing reading glasses makes your vision clearer, but it does not have an impact on your actual prescription. Your prescription may continue to change as you get older, regardless of whether you wear glasses every day or not. Don’t be confused if you hear a glasses prescription or power referred to as a “strength” — this does not mean it’ll make your eyes stronger over time. A reading glasses strength is another word for the magnification (+1.0, +2.0, +3.0, etc.) of your lenses. Bottom line: No one’s going to miraculously cure bad vision by wearing their glasses every day.

Sitting too close to the TV is bad for your eyes: False

Although parents have been saying this since the television made its way into living rooms, this rumor is no longer true. Before the ‘60s, television sets emitted mild levels of radiation that could cause eye problems after repeated and extended exposure. Nowadays, TVs have proper shielding so radiation is no longer an issue. Sitting in front of a screen of any type for too long could cause you to experience discomfort like eyestrain, irritation, or watery or dry eyes, so if you find yourself in front of technology on a regular basis, consider wearing a pair of special computer glasses (read more about their benefits here).

Eating carrots can improve eyesight: False

If you continue to tell your kids this so they still eat their vegetables, we completely understand; however, eating carrots won’t help someone with poor eyesight regain clear vision. But while carrots will not improve your vision, they are jam-packed with nutrients known to help protect the eye. Carrots contain vitamin A, which is known to help reduce the impact of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. For more on making healthy, eye-conscious diet choices (and for delicious recipes!), read here.

If you see fine, your eyes are healthy and you don’t need an exam: False

If you’ve been cruising through life with 20/20 vision — that’s great! However, many eye and vision problems have little or no obvious signs or symptoms, so it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist to make sure they stay healthy as you age (just as you would get your skin checked at the dermatologist). The eye doctor performs many comprehensive eye exams that can detect issues happening inside of your eye — even such health conditions as tumors and diabetes before physical symptoms are present.

Reading in dim light will make your eyesight worse: False

Reading in the dim light will not make your eyesight worse (you won’t go blind from reading in the dark). But it will make it harder to see what your reading and can cause your eyes to strain. In low light, your eyes are doing two things: relaxing to collect as much light as possible and contracting in order to focus on whatever you’re reading. Plus, the lack of contrast between the words and the page make it more difficult to focus. This can make your eyes really strained, confused, and tired, and it can result in sore, dry, or watery eyes, or headaches and other irritations. While reading in the dark might be bothersome, these symptoms are temporary and will not cause long-term damage to your eyesight. If you read in well-lit conditions and still experience these symptoms, make sure to talk to your eye doctor.

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As with any medical condition or treatment, please consult your eye doctor, optometrist, or ophthalmologist before making decisions about your eye health. This resource is purely educational and meant to better prepare you to ask questions during your next visit. For more information on our disclaimer, click here.