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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Children’s Eye Health

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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Children’s Eye Health

Jun 27, 2016

Will eating carrots really improve your child's eyesight? Or will reading in a dim room ruin your eyesight? Dr. Cindy Gellner stops by to discuss the common eyesight myths everyone hears as a child.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Gellner: We'd all have x-ray vision if we could, am I right? Do certain activities we've been warned about actually hurt our eyes? Old wives' tales about eyes today on The Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering The Healthy Kids Zone with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: They say eating carrots will improve your eyesight, not true. But this old wives' tale has a really cool back story. It may have started during World War II when British intelligence spread a rumor that their pilots had remarkable night vision because they ate lots of carrots. They didn't want the Germans to know they were secretly using radar.

Carrots and many other vegetables high in vitamin A, do help maintain healthy eyesight, but eating more than the recommended daily allowance won't improve your child's vision. In fact, it can turn your child orange like a Oompa Loompa. That's called beta-carotenemia. Not good.

Reading in dim light will damage your eyes. False. Although reading in a dimly lit room won't do your child's eyes any harm, good lighting can prevent eye fatigue and make reading easier during the pile of homework they have to do every night.

Too much TV is bad for your eyes. Well, watching television won't hurt your child's eyes no matter how close to the TV they sit. But too much TV is a bad idea for kids. Two hours of screen time or less people. Research shows that kids who consistently spend more than 10 hours a week watching TV are more likely to be overweight, aggressive, and be behind in school. So get them outside playing instead.

And we've all heard this one growing up. If you cross your eyes they'll stay that way. Sorry mom, not true. Only 4% of children in the United States have strabismus, a problem with the eyes are not aligned correctly giving the appearance that they're looking in different directions. Eye crossing however does not lead to strabismus.

And no, your child will not shoot their eye out if they play with BB guns responsibly. But when it comes to your child's eyes, if they have any problems, see a pediatric eye doctor right away.

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