Dr. Benjamin is busting some myths about myopia. Do you need your glasses prescription to be a little weaker to train your eyes? Does constant wearing of glasses exacerbate poor eyesight? Read on!
Bad Genes, Glasses, and a Telescope in the Eyes (2)
Among the general population, there’s a popular opinion that the constant wearing of glasses can exacerbate already-poor eyesight. Is there any truth to this?
They don’t think that everywhere, but in one African country, 64% of students believe that glasses are harmful to vision, in Pakistan 70%, and in Brazil even health workers are convinced of this. It’s surprising, however, that the long-term wearing of glasses and its effects on vision have not been fundamentally studied. Nevertheless, available data does not support this popular hypothesis in which the causal relationship has been turned on its head. In the long run…
…in the long run we all dead, as economist John Keynes said. Sorry, I interrupted.
I don’t know if Keynes wore glasses, but according to this perspective it is completely unimportant whether you wear glasses or not. Although it is desirable to not overtax your eyes, be it from a computer or a restaurant menu, which you have to push away at arm’s length because farsightedness won’t allow you to see the prices, your pride sometimes won’t stop you from wearing them. At the same time, there are other stereotypes that might prevent you from going to the ophthalmologist, who may be able to restore your vision without the help of glasses.
And in the case of children it’s the same?
Not really. If glasses are needed in childhood, it is extremely important to select the right ones. If you’re wearing the wrong glasses at an early age or not wearing them at all, it may not be the best way to have a positive effect on your vision.
As a child, I was given plus-lenses as a “Japanese” treatment of myopia. You strain, suffer, and try to see what’s written on the chalkboard in plus-lenses, and the benefits are a hundredfold.
There was at a time when it was believed that it’s supposedly helpful to wear glasses that are weaker than necessary, and this will slow down the process of elongation of the eyeball, thus slowing down the development of myopia. It was assumed that if you wear glasses that allow normal vision at a distance, but require focus up close, the eyeball will be more likely to stretch, which should be avoided at all costs. This theory or better said myth was refuted 15 years ago in a Malaysian study. Myopic children were divided into two groups – one wore glasses at the exact strength required, and the other weaker than necessary. Children from the second group had such a severe stretching of their eyeballs that the study had to be stopped ahead of time.
Sounds like kids with myopia are better off wearing glasses which match vision 100%.
Children’s eyes are still learning how to see, and that’s why they may develop amblyopia if the prescription is not precise, also known as lazy eye. The retina loses the ability to focus on an image. Also, correct prescriptions can help kids read faster and lower the risk of becoming cross-eyed. And as for adults, as I said earlier, correct glasses can’t harm your vision, but LASIK is much better, as it can improve your mood, looks, and even quality of life, in case you are a good candidate for it.
As we all remember there is another alternative. In USSR I once got a hold of a rare pair of Czech contact lenses, the kind that needed to boil daily. Everyone knows that the technology of things has advanced a lot. However, there are not many people in my circle of friends who are older than 40 and still wear contacts, as all of them have chosen LASIK. And those who have light myopia just put their glasses on when driving or go to the movies. But maybe contacts are still on the radar? I’ve read about the development of contact lenses that can be paired with glasses to achieve a telescopic effect, and the combination can provide zoom on objects up to 2.8 times.
Those lenses were created for people with macular dystrophy or age-related vision weakening. The telescopic element that you are talking about is positioned in the central ring of the lens. Microscopic aluminum mirrors with refractive cuts become magnifying glasses. They reflect the light within the eye 4 times; after that it goes to the retina. The problem is these kinds of lenses must be allowed to breathe if you wear them all day. That’s why they are infused with a net of small channels, providing the cornea with oxygen, and this drastically increases the complexity of production. However, there is a chance that these lenses, for people with macular dystrophy, will become popular in the near future. At this point, this type of patient has to wear very heavy glasses with telescopic lenses, or get a very complex and expensive surgery that introduces special transplants into the eye.
I’m dreaming away and looking into the far future, when one can put on telescopic lenses and see how the things are going on Mars.
I would still advise getting back down to the Earth and taking care of your eyes today.
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