Myths about Blindness and Visual Impairments
Myth #1: Babies can see at birth.
- We are born without anatomically developed eyes! Our vision at birth
is by no means fully developed. Newborn babies see little more than
the difference between light and dark.
- We all must learn to see, just as we learn to talk. The learning
process takes place gradually between birth and is completed before
the age six.
Myth #2: Children should have the first eye examination when they
enter the first grade.
- Every child should have his/her eyes examined by a medical doctor by
the age of three. If no problems are noted, the next exam should be
around the age of 6.
- If the physician does detect any problems that might interfere with
the child's learning, the difficulty may be corrected at a young age,
allowing the child's vision to develop normally.
Myth #3: If you cannot see well in the dark, you have night
blindness, which is a common problem.
- Night blindness is not at all common. Night blindness can be a
symptom of an eye disease called retinitis pigmemtosa and should be
checked out by an eye doctor.
- Most people have more trouble seeing at night simply because it is
harder to see when there is less light.
Myth #4: You should eat carrots because they improve your ability to
see in the dark.
- Supplementing your diet with vitamin A found in carrots will not
necessarily improve your vision.
Myth #5: People who are colorblind see only in black and white.
- Persons who are colorblind perceive colors less vividly than the
normal seeing person. Their world is rarely monochromatic (contrary to
the popular TV show John Doe).
Myth #6: Cataracts can be surgically removed only when they are
- Cataracts, unlike a tomato, do not "ripen." Cataracts can
remain stable or get progressively worse (more opaque). Surgery is
performed when the patient's vision is so impaired that it interferes
with activities of daily life.
Myth #7: You can tell if you have glaucoma because you will
experience eye pain, see halos around lights, have excessive tearing, or
your eyes will bother you in some way.
- One type of glaucoma is painful. The most common type however,
causes no pain at all and is usually without symptoms until the
disease is far advanced.
Myth #8: Sitting too close to the television or movie screen is bad
for your eyes.
- You cannot injure your eyes in any way by sitting close to the
television or movie screen. Sit where you feel the most comfortable.
Myth #9: If you read or do a lot of close work, you will ruin your
eyes and make yourself need glasses.
- Optical errors are never caused by reading or any other heavy visual
demand. The causes of the refractive errors are in the workings of the
eye. People who read a lot may be more aware of possible refraction
- Symptoms of eyestrain and headaches may appear. The presence of the
symptoms usually motivates the person to seek correction with lenses
Myth #10: Cheap sunglasses are bad for your eyes.
- Good sunglasses are recommended because they usually have sturdier
frames and higher quality lenses that filter out harmful IR or UV
light. Inexpensive sunglasses won't necessarily injure your eyes
Myth #11: Individuals who are blind have a sixth sense or extra
- Usually a combination of hard work and the development of a good
memory will permit people experiencing a vision loss to function very
well. The "sixth sense" is a poetic phrase having no
foundation or truth.
Myth #12: People who are blind or visually impaired are always in
total darkness, seeing nothing at all.
- Only about 15% of the visually impaired population "see"
only total darkness. The majority of individuals who is visually
impaired have some residual vision whether it is light perception, color
perception or form perception.
Myth #13: Students who are blind or visually impaired shouldn't
participate in physical activities for fear of losing their remaining
sight or because they can't see what they are doing to participate.
- Physical limitations should be determined by a medical examination.
Physical education and recreational activities need to be encouraged
for everyone however.
- The activities improve motor skills, coordination, and visual &
auditory perceptual skills. Most physical activity can be easily
adapted to allow an individual who is visually impaired to participate.
Myth #14: An individual's functional vision can fluctuate from day
to day or during different hours of the day.
- Depending on the etiology and prognosis of the eye disorder/disease,
usable vision can vary from day to day or hour to hour.
- Teachers and caregivers should take note of the times of day,
lighting condition, weather conditions etc. and help the individual
accommodate to as his/her vision changes.
Myth #15: All individuals who are visually impaired wear some form
of corrective lenses.
- Refractive lenses cannot correct all visually impairments. The need
for lenses is independent upon the diagnosis of the eye problems, the
age of the patient and the individual need of the patient.
Myth #16: Large print books enable all visually impaired persons to
- Many visually impaired persons are able to read regular size print
books. The large print books, however, enlarge the print on a page and
allow for easier reading for persons with difficulty reading smaller
Myth #17: A dog guide knows where to go and how to get there without
the master telling him/her.
- Dog guides are trained from about one year of age to respond to
traffic, street travel, and the commands the master gives. The
individual who is visually impaired, before using a dog guide, goes through
extensive and intensive training on how to use the dog.
- It is the master who knows where they are going, and not the dog.
Last Revised: August 17, 2010