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Of carrots and more...

What are the myths surrounding eye care? Read on to find out



EXERCISE caution Children should view television for less than two hours a day

“Have another ladleful of carrot curry. You will have no eye problems.” At some point in time, all of us have heard that from stern mothers or elders who insisted that carrots are good for the eyes and that they cure eye ailments. But how true are these claims?

J.K. Reddy, Director of Sankara Eye Care Institutions, says that carrots contain vitamin A (carotenoids) which are essential for eye health and strengthening mucous membranes. However, they cannot cure refractive errors that are the common cause for spectacles in children.

Talking of spectacles, wearing them need not necessarily relieve one of headache. This is because the causes of headache are plenty, such as lack of general well being, fatigue, neurological and refractive errors, says Dr. Reddy.

Exercises

Again, do you believe that eye exercises can rid you of glasses? Though eye exercises can improve blood circulation to the eye muscles and strengthen them, they can’t cure refractive errors, he says.

And, are you the one to treat every eye problem — watery eyes, red eyes, swollen eyes — with just the eye drops you bought months ago? “Don’t”, cautions Dr. Reddy. “Eye drops are medicines which have to be applied following a doctor’s prescription. Each ailment has to be treated with different types of eye drops. Sometimes, applying eye drops without proper indication may even damage the eyes.”

D. Ramamurthi, Medical Director of The Eye Foundation, says that if there is any irritation, just wash your eyes with cold water. If it persists, visit your eye doctor. V. Narendran, Chief Medical Officer of Aravind Eye Hospital and Postgraduate Institute of Ophthalmology, says that native medication such as oil, rosewater, hen’s blood and breast milk are a strict no-no. These medications are by themselves more harmful to the eye than the ailments.

Here’s for the ones who get chided for reading in dim light or watching television and working on the computer for long hours. Reading in dim light cannot weaken your eyes or vision, says Dr. Reddy. Similarly, watching television or sitting in front of the computer for long cannot produce any lasting harm to the eyes, in adults. But, in children with refractive errors, it is better to restrict the viewing hours to less than two hours a day.

Anti-glare glasses

Dr. Ramamurthi says that those in front of computers for long should take short breaks. Further, it would be a good idea to use anti-glare glasses. He says that short- or long-sightedness or cylindrical vision is inherited, and factors such as television play only a miniscule role.

Do you think anyone with conjunctivitis is passing it by just staring at you? Dr. Narendran says that the disease spreads only through the affected persons’ tears or secretions. This could happen by using their bedding, towel etc.

Crossed eyes

This one is for parents. Many of us imagine that children outgrow squint or crossed eyes, and that squinting can be corrected at any age. But, this is far from the truth.

Crossed eyes or squinting is due to congenital or neurological problems. Leaving the eye uncorrected will result in lazy eye and permanent diminished vision, cautions Dr. Reddy.

Dr. Ramamurthi says the earlier the treatment, the better, for after a certain age, the correction is purely cosmetic and the vision remains damaged.

Early cataract

To all those who are postponing their cataract surgery, waiting for it to ripen, Dr. Reddy says that you need not wait. With modern technology, it is much safer to operate on an early cataract than the ripe one.

Dr. Reddy says that many assume that visiting an ophthalmologist is not important till one reaches the age of 40, and if one has good vision. He insists that as with any other organ, eyes too need a regular check-up by an eye doctor.

W. SREELALITHA

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