Health-related errors also stem from misapprehensions about health and disease, many of which are readily obtainable from the Internet. A sampling related just to eyes:
- a person can tell when he has glaucoma by “feeling” the increased pressure in the eyes. Untrue and dangerous: Early glaucoma is asymptomatic and can only be detected by measuring the pressure in the eyeball with an instrument.
- “pinkeye” is always infectious and contagious. Untrue: It can be allergy-related or due to some sort of irritant.
- placing a warm tea bag on the eyes can relieve eye irritations. Untrue, and it can lead to allergic sensitivity to tea components.
- most headaches are due to eye problems. Untrue; many have no known cause, and some causes – such as aneurysms and intracerebral bleeding – are medical emergencies.
- cataracts must be “ripe” before being removed. Untrue; ophthalmologists recommend that they be operated on when they begin to interfere with the patient’s lifestyle. The timing might be very different, say, for a truck driver or an elderly person who spends most of his time watching TV.
- use of glasses should be minimized to prevent dependency. Untrue, and not wearing glasses when needed may predispose to falls and other accidents.
- children outgrow crossed eyes. Untrue. One of the most common causes of turned-in eyes is hyperopia (commonly misnamed as far-sighted), which requires correction with eyeglasses; if not corrected, in time this may lead to weak vision (or lazy eye) in the turned-in eye. This is very hard to correct beyond the age of about five years.
- never borrow someone else’s glasses or you’ll ruin your eyes. Untrue. No harm will result other than not seeing well with these glasses or possibly a mild headache if the prescription is far different from yours.
- computer screens damage eyes. Untrue. The glare might cause your eyes to tire but there is no danger of radiation or other undesirable side-effects.
- reading in dim light will hurt your eyes. Untrue, but it might tire you more quickly than if you read in a brighter light.
- sitting too close to the TV will hurt your eyes. Untrue.
- dark lenses on eyeglasses reduce glare better than lighter lenses. Untrue. Polarized lenses are best for reducing glare (e.g., sunlight reflected off snow or water); the tint is a personal preference based on comfort.
- a subconjunctival hemorrhage (a broken blood vessel in the white part of the eye) is serious and can affect your vision. Untrue. It resolves in 10-14 days and requires nothing more than artificial tears (if there’s a feeling of scratchiness).