Deliberate squinting, reading under the covers, too much television – many parents prohibit this from their children. But it really hurts?
Deliberate squinting drives the parents crazy rather than the eyes broken
The list of things that are said to be bad for the eyes is long. In the following we explain what is really there:
Reading in bad light is harmful?
In the evenings sneak a comic with a flashlight under the covers – which child doesn’t like to do that. Then to hear the sentence from concerned parents: "Put the book away or turn on the light, otherwise you will spoil your eyes!" In fact, these fears are largely unfounded. "Reading in poor light conditions is primarily a myth,", says Georg Eckert from the professional association of ophthalmologists in Germany, "In any case, there is no scientific evidence for this."
But one thing is certain: browsing in dim light strains the visual system. In order to be able to decipher the small letters in low light, the reading material is usually held relatively close to the face. And the closer an object is to the eye, the more the so-called ciliary muscle has to contract. This rounds off the eye lens. Your refractive power increases so that a sharp image is created on the retina. Other eye muscles also have to do hard work.
This can tire your eyes and your eyesight lose weight – but only temporarily. If the muscles have recovered the next morning, vision will be as good as before. So all clear for those who like to browse by candlelight or under the covers? Not quite. "In theory, persistent strong accommodation in childhood can cause the eyeball to grow longer", reports Georg Eckert. The result would be permanent myopia. "For this to happen, a child would have to read several hours a day in the semi-darkness", the ophthalmologist calms down.
How bad is deliberate squinting?
Sooner or later, every child will find out that they can consciously roll their eyes. Then it mostly hears dramatic warnings: "Stop that, it’s not good for the eyes. If you do it more often, it will stay that way at some point!" Pure scaremongering, stated Georg Eckert. "It is definitely not true that you can stop your eyes if you intentionally squint, and it does no harm."
But if children squint without voluntary action, there is an urgent need for action. In Germany, about four million people suffer from such a permanent or recurring malposition of the eyes. Such a "Silberblick" is not only a blemish in children, but leads to permanent visual impairment without treatment. "Childish squinting can impair both visual acuity and spatial vision for a lifetime", explains Dr. Steffen Hörle, medical director of the Artemis Eye Clinic Dillenburg. In order to prevent permanent impairment of vision, the misaligned eye must be treated as early as possible. The prospect of success drops significantly at just three years. However, some of the toddlers only squint so easily that it is hardly noticeable to lay people. "In order to detect such a microstrabism, all children should be examined by the ophthalmologist between the second and third birthday", says Hörle. However, the health insurance companies often do not pay for such an examination without reasonable suspicion.
Makes television square eyes?
To put it straight away: you don’t get square eyes even when you try to set a new world record on permanent TV. The saying therefore serves more to keep his children from doing what they would most like to do: hanging in front of the telly from morning to night until the eyes burn. The latter can actually happen. Since you blink less often when watching TV, the tear fluid is distributed more poorly. The eyes react more quickly then irritated. This monotony of eyes is actually only problematic for people who tend to have dry eyes anyway. "A healthy eye with an intact tear film can put up with a lot of television", says Georg Eckert from the German Association of Ophthalmologists.
If you stick your nose to the ground glass, you add its By the way, eyesight does not cause any permanent damage either. If people – especially children – tend to sit very close to the television, this can indicate ametropia. Then you should make an appointment with the ophthalmologist.
Harm computers, cell phones and video games to the eyes?
At least a third of people who spend more than three hours a day in front of the computer complain of eye complaints. Just like on television, the blame for this is to blame. "When working on a PC, you look so closely at the monitor that you practically forget to blink", explains eye doctor Eckert. "As a result, the normal tear film is only insufficiently distributed over the cornea of the eye." Itching, burning, feeling dry and conjunctivitis are the possible consequences.
Hours of daddling or watching films on the cell phone have exactly the same effect. Persistent negative effects on eyesight to step but not on either. "If you work on the computer, you should make sure to blink carefully and look into the distance from time to time so that your eyes relax", recommends Georg Eckert. If the symptoms persist, artificial tears in the form of eye drops can help. Doctor or pharmacist advise on the selection of suitable preparations.
Not wearing the glasses – it damages the eyes?
The fact that the eyesight of older people wears off is a natural process. Because of this presbyopia, sooner or later nobody will be able to avoid glasses or contact lenses. But some people only use the visual aid sporadically – because it is annoying or does not please them. It is only a rumor that the eyes get even worse in adults, says Georg Eckert. "If a defective adult is not wearing glasses, the ametropia will not increase", says the ophthalmologist. The same applies if someone puts the wrong glasses on their noses. He may get a headache or it may make him dizzy – but there is nothing more to fear.
Here, however, children are the exception: if they have squint or ametropia, glasses only ensure that visual performance is fully developed. Therefore, the little ones must definitely wear their visual aids.
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