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What Does (And Doesn't) Affect Your Vision

Eye Myths

Should you avoid rubbing your eyes?


Verdict: Yes, in rare cases it can damage your vision.

For most people, an occasional gentle rub is nothing to worry about, says Professor Charles McMonnies, from the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of NSW.

But if you rub your eyes too hard, too often or over a long period of time, you could get into trouble, says McMonnies, a research optometrist with a special interest in eye rubbing. He says studies show that rubbing causes our eye pressure to spike.

Even a light rub doubles it, he says. Removing eye make-up or wiping away tears increases the pressure a little more. But scrunching up your eyes then using your knuckles to gouge really hard shoots up your eye pressure more than 20 times.

Does reading in dim light damage your eyes?
Verdict: Not likely, but reading too much in general can affect your sight.

We've all been there – so engrossed in a good book you don't want to stop reading, despite poor light.

But this is unlikely to permanently damage your eyes, says Brisbane optometry professor Nathan Efron. It's true you'll probably find it more comfortable to read in good light, but there's no evidence low light causes any permanent harm.

The most likely outcome is temporary "eye strain" – a discomfort we attribute to our eyes, but which has no known physiological cause, Efron says.

"People will say they've got tired eyes, burning eyes, strained eyes. But the problem might not actually be in the eyes. It might be caused by the muscles around the eye, the brow and so on. We don't really know."

Do your sunnies need to have an SPF?
Verdict: Yes, it's important to have sunglasses that protect your eyes from damaging ultraviolet radition.

Like your skin, your eyes are susceptible to both short term and long term effects of harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, says Cancer Council Australia's Skin Cancer Committee chair Louise Baldwin.

"The most common short-term impact of UV exposure to the eye is acute photo keratopathy, which is like sunburn of the cornea and can cause inflammation," she explains.

"Long-term exposure to UV radiation can result in more serious damage to the eyes, including squamous cell cancers on the surface of the eye and skin cancer around the eyes. It can also cause cataracts, damage to the retina and climatic droplet keratopathy (cloudiness of the cornea)."


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