Despite all those sitcoms and movies starring geeky heroes with thick spectacles, there’s still an element of ‘uncool’ associated with the use of spectacles. Not surprisingly, most of us still hate using glasses, but it turns out that many are just as uncomfortable with contact lenses. This is because of a widespread belief that using spectacles and lenses to correct vision actually progressively worsens eyesight, creating a permanent dependence on visual aids.
While the reasoning may appear sound and proponents of eye exercises can sound pretty convincing, is there any truth to these fears or is it just a myth?
Can Spectacles & Lenses Weaken Vision?
“No, spectacle & lens use does not weaken eyesight & there is no scientific evidence to support this claim”
The idea that wearing spectacles or contact lenses increases dependence and causes your vision to deteriorate is nothing but a myth as there is no evidence to back such claims. The myth is based on scientific ideas, which is why it is so pervasive, but science has progressed a lot since then.
The idea grew out of the belief that the use of glasses or lenses caused physical changes to the anatomy of the eye, an idea that has been found to be incorrect.
The Root Of The Problem
To understand the issue, we need to look at both types of visual problems – short-sightedness, or myopia and long-sightedness, or hyperopia.
Long-Sightedness Or Hyperopia
“Deterioration of vision is normal with aging, but this natural process has often been blamed on spectacle use”
Long sightedness is usually age-related, caused by stiffening of the lenses in the eyes. The onset of this problem is typically in your 40s or 50s, which is when most people start using spectacles. This is an age-related degenerative problem that will continue irrespective of spectacle use.
However, as individuals adjust to spectacle/contact lens use, they become increasingly dependent on them. Because of advancing age, your eyes’ lenses continue to deteriorate and people mistakenly connect this deterioration with spectacle and contact usage.
Short-Sightedness Or Myopia
“The idea that spectacle use would increase eyeball elongation, increasing short-sightedness, has also been proven to be false, with the opposite holding true!”
In the past, medical practitioners believed that short sightedness, which is common in children and young adults, could be worsened with spectacle use. This was based on the assumption that elongation of the eyeball would be hastened with spectacle or lens use.
This assumption has also been shown to be incorrect, as a study in Malaysia found that greater eyeball elongation occurs in children who are underprescribed eye glasses, as was the practice before.
While it can be tempting to buy into eye exercises and other alternative therapies that claim to strengthen vision, most of these claims are unfounded or grossly exaggerated. Besides, visual aids like spectacles and contact lenses do not have any ill effect on vision and you can wear them without having to worry about your number going up. With age, vision deteriorates and you may find that your number keeps increasing over the years, but you can be sure that spectacles and lenses will actually help to slow that process.