Myths Behind Bad Eyesight: Part 1

Welcome to the Better Vision blog where you’ll find information and tips on how to care for your eyes and improve your vision without glasses, contacts, drugs, or surgery.

This is the first in a 4 segment post entitled Myths Behind Bad Eyesight.
Please visit us each month for new posts about eyes, vision, and how to see better.

Myths Behind Bad Eyesight: Part 1

Many people, even if they would like to see without glasses or contacts, doubt that it’s possible. Much of that skepticism is rooted in misunderstanding.
There are five common misconceptions that lead people to think that eyesight cannot be improved. They are:

1. Poor vision is inherited.
2. Vision inevitably deteriorates with age.
3. Poor vision is caused by certain visual activities.
4. Weak eye muscles cause poor vision.
5. Seeing is solely a physical, mechanical process.

Let’s examine each of these in greater detail.

(This information applies to functional vision problems - nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, eye imbalances, lazy eye, etc. Click here for information on cataracts, and here for macular degeneration.)

1. Poor vision is inherited

The first misconception is that vision problems are inherited; that is, if your parents had poor vision, then you will too. Once universally accepted, it is now recognized by most eye doctors that the ability to see is not fixed at birth.

Only 3 people out of every 100 who cannot see clearly are born with inherited vision problems. The other 97% develop vision problems at some point in their life. Just as we learn how to talk or how to walk, we also learn how to see.

Since most of us were actually born with clear vision it would be more accurate to say that we learned how to not see clearly. Of course, we didn’t learn it deliberately or consciously, and we weren’t taught it by anyone, but we did develop an improper way of using our eyes and brain that led to unclear vision.

Recent studies indicate that even 1-day-old babies can focus clearly. When shown a picture of their mothers’ face, these little infants could bring the picture into focus by adjusting the rate of their sucking on an artificial nipple. If they sucked at the right rate, the picture would stay clear. If they sucked too fast or too slow, the picture went out of focus. Invariably, the infants were able to keep the picture in focus!

Until this ingenious experiment was conducted, scientists erroneously thought that babies couldn’t focus clearly until 3 or 4 months of age. Instead, it turns out that it was the scientists’ inability to communicate with babies that led to their misunderstanding.

As human beings, we learn about the world around us through our five physical senses. The most dominant and highly developed is vision. In fact, 80% to 90% of the information that we gather comes to us through our eyes. Our vision is our primary means of relationship to the world around us.

Over half the people in this country wear glasses or contacts. Needing corrective lenses to see clearly is now considered normal. We have become a nation of people largely dependent on an artificial means to perform a most basic and essential human function.

Yet, it wasn’t always this way. Vision problems affect five times as many people today as compared to 100 years ago. This huge increase took place during only three or four generations. If poor vision was inherited, then who could we have possibly inherited it from?

Our next blog post will dive deeper into the second myth behind bad eyesight.