Do Carrots Improve Your Vision? 15 Misconceptions About Your Eyesight

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We can probably all recount at least a dozen weird and alarming things parents, teachers, and older siblings told us about our eyes when we were kids. For instance, we’d be permanently cross-eyed if we didn’t stop making those faces at our brother or we’d go blind from reading in the dark. But maybe, just maybe, we could find redemption by eating lots of carrots. Here are a few common myths and misconceptions.

MYTH #1: IF YOU CROSS YOUR EYES, THEY'LL STAY THAT WAY.

It’s a myth that your eyes will “freeze” if you cross them for too long. Crossed eyes, or strabismus, occurs when your eyes don’t look the same way at the same time. There are six muscles attached to each of our eyes that, guided by signals from the brain, control their movements. When your eyes don’t align, the brain gets two different images. Over time, this can cause more serious vision issues. That’s a real problem, but it’s not caused by making your eyes cross on purpose for short periods of time.

MYTH #2. EATING CARROTS WILL HELP YOU SEE IN THE DARK.

Well, carrots certainly aren’t bad for your eyesight. They contain plenty of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, a crucial vitamin for vision. But carrots don’t do anything exceptional for your nighttime vision.

MYTH #3: THE BIGGER YOUR EYES, THE BETTER YOUR EYESIGHT.

When you’re born, your eyeballs are approximately 16 millimeters in diameter, reaching 24 millimeters as an adult. But your eyes getting larger does not necessarily mean that your vision is getting better. In fact, excessive growth in human eyes can cause myopia, or nearsightedness. If the eyeball is too long, the eye’s lens can’t focus the light in the right part of the retina to process images clearly.

MYTH #4: PUPIL DILATION OCCURS ONLY IN RESPONSE TO CHANGES IN LIGHT.

We all know that pupils contract in light and dilate in darker conditions. But did you know that pupils also respond to changes in our emotional and mental state? Sexual arousal, solving a complicated mental math problem, fear, and other cognitive and emotional events can provoke changes in pupil size, though the precise reasons why are not yet clearly understood.

MYTH #5: UV RAYS CAN ONLY DAMAGE EYES WHEN THE SUN IS SHINING.

Even on cloudy and foggy days, ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause eye damage. The rays can be reflected off of water, sand, snow and shiny surfaces. So make sure to keep your 100 percent UV protection sunglasses handy whenever you are out and about. Years of exposure can increase your risk of developing cataracts, a clouding of the eye lens that can cause vision loss.

MYTH #6: WEARING GLASSES TOO MUCH CAN MAKE YOUR EYESIGHT WORSE.

This myth suggests that over-reliance on glasses for common vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism will weaken or damage eyes. That’s not true, nor will your eyes be damaged by wearing glasses with a prescription that’s too strong—though it may give you a temporary strain or headache.

However, children should still be given the correct prescription. A 2002 study found that giving children glasses with a prescription that is too weak can increase their myopia, while giving the correct prescription “reduces the progression of myopia.”

MYTH #7: READING IN DIM LIGHT WILL DIMINISH YOUR EYESIGHT.

How many of you recall your parents telling you to “put some light on the subject” when you were curled up with a good book in dwindling daylight? Having more light can certainly help you see better, because it makes it easier for you to focus. But while reading in semi-darkness may put a temporary strain on your eyes, it’s not going to permanently damage your eyesight. Recent studies indicate not getting enough daylight in general, however, may have a detrimental effect on vision.

MYTH #8: IF YOUR PARENTS HAVE BAD EYESIGHT, YOU WILL, TOO.

You might, of course, because some eye problems are genetic. But there’s no guarantee that we will develop the same vision impairments as our parents. One study found that if both parents are myopic, there’s a 30 to 40 percent chance that the child is. If only one parent is myopic, the child has a 20 to 25 percent chance, and it's down to 10 percent for kids with non-myopic parents.

MYTH #9: TOO MUCH SCREEN TIME WILL DESTROY YOUR EYESIGHT.

Optometrists frequently debate this topic, but most agree that it’s not too damaging for most people. Having said that, more and more people are complaining of symptoms like dry, irritated eyes, headaches, eye strain and difficulty focusing after prolonged periods of screen time. The American Optometric Association (AOA) defines this group of symptoms collectively as Computer Vision Syndrome—or Digital Eye Strain—which can be further exacerbated by trying to focus on small screens such as tablets or phones. The AOA recommends following the 20-20-20 rule to remediate the effects of screen time: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away.

MYTH #10: THE RIGHT "VITAMIN COCKTAIL" CAN PREVENT VISION DECLINE.

Recent studies don’t support the notion that the right combination of vitamins can keep your eyesight from deteriorating, according to Harvard researchers. A National Institutes of Health study showed that antioxidant vitamins may help slow the progression of macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of vision loss as we age. But for people not already suffering from the disease, preventative use of such vitamins didn’t appear to make a significant difference. Perhaps an effective vitamin cocktail will be discovered one day, but so far, there’s no proof that it works.

MYTH #11: DYSLEXIA IS LINKED TO VISION PROBLEMS.

A recent study from Bristol and Newcastle Universities in the UK found that children with dyslexia were no more likely than others to suffer from common vision problems like myopia, far-sightedness, squinting or focusing problems.

MYTH #12: IF YOU DON'T TREAT LAZY EYE WHEN YOU'RE A SMALL CHILD, YOU'LL HAVE IT FOREVER.

Lazy eye, or amblyopia, occurs when nerve pathways between the brain and the eye aren’t properly stimulated, causing the brain to favor one eye over the other. The weaker eye tends to wander, and eventually the brain might ignore signals received from that eye. While doctors say that the sooner it’s treated the better, there are an increasing number of remedies (including Tetris) that can help adults as well.

MYTH #13: BLIND PEOPLE SEE ONLY DARKNESS.

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, only 18 percent of people who have visual impairments are totally blind. Most are able to differentiate between light and dark.

MYTH #14: HUMAN VISION IS THE SAME IN SPACE AS IT IS ON EARTH.

Actually, NASA scientists have found that space can impair our vision, though they still aren’t sure why. A study of seven astronauts who spent more than six months on the International Space Station noted that all experienced blurry vision during and for months after their space mission. The researchers hypothesized that the shift of fluids toward the head that can occur in microgravity might have something to do with it. Now, NASA is following up with a study that will track the vision of crew members during and after long space missions to try and determine exactly why these vision changes occur in space.

MYTH #15: PEOPLE WHO ARE COLORBLIND CAN'T SEE COLOR.

The human eye and brain work together to interpret color from light, and each of us perceives color slightly differently. We all have photopigments—color-detecting molecules—in cone-shaped cells inside our retinas. But people who suffer from hereditary color blindness have defects in the genes that direct production of photopigments. It’s quite rare for someone not to see color at all, however. It's more common for color blind individuals to have difficulty differentiating between certain colors, like red and green, or blue and yellow. And while color blindness is far more common in males than females, it does affect a small percentage of women.

10 Fascinating Facts About Anne Boleyn

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Anne Boleyn was one of England’s most controversial queens. In 1533, King Henry VIII annulled his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon) and was in the process of breaking with the Catholic Church to wed the charming noblewoman. But their happiness was not to last: Just three years later, Anne was executed. It’s a compelling story, one that’s been dramatized in plays, novels, movies, and TV shows. But today, we’re setting the pop culture depictions aside to take a look at the real Anne Boleyn.

  1. Anne Boleyn’s formative years were spent in France and Belgium.

Born in the early 16th century (possibly in 1501 or 1507), Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, an English diplomat. As a child, she went abroad to study in Margaret of Austria’s court, located in present-day Belgium, and later continued her education as a member of Mary Tudor’s elegant household in Paris. By the time she returned to her native England in the early 1520s, Boleyn had mastered the French language—and she carried herself like a Parisian, too. “No one,” wrote one of Boleyn’s contemporaries, “would ever have taken her to be English by her manners, but [instead] a native-born Frenchwoman."

  1. Anne Boleyn played the lute.

Even Boleyn’s harshest critics had to admit that she was a good dancer. She was also fond of music, and reportedly played the lute (a guitar-like instrument popular at Tudor gatherings) quite well. A songbook that bears her inscription can be found at London’s Royal College of Music. It’s unclear if Boleyn ever owned this book, but its selection of tunes is historically significant.

  1. Anne Boleyn almost married someone other than King Henry VIII.

In 1522, Thomas Boleyn and his cousin, Sir Piers Butler, were both trying to claim some Irish land holdings that had belonged to one of their mutual ancestors. To settle the dispute, Anne's uncle suggested marrying Anne to Butler’s son, James, so that the factions could be unified in the future. By the time Anne returned to England, the marriage was already in the works. King Henry VIII—whose mistress at that time was Anne's sister Mary—supported the match, but the marriage never went through. Anne also had a romantic relationship with one Henry Percy, a future Earl of Northumberland who wound up marrying the Lady Mary Talbot.

  1. Anne Boleyn was pregnant at her coronation.

King Henry VIII’s marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was annulled on May 23, 1533. He’d been courting Anne Boleyn for years; many of his love letters survive to this day. As the king’s infatuation grew, so did his desire for a healthy male heir—which Catherine never gave him. But Pope Clement VII refused to dissolve the royal marriage. So the Archbishop of Canterbury went ahead and annulled it. Henry VIII would soon be declared “Supreme Head of the Church of England,” severing its ties with the Vatican. Boleyn was crowned queen on June 1, 1533. Her first child, Princess Elizabeth, was born a little over three months later.

  1. Anne Boleyn’s emblem was a white falcon.

The Boleyns took a white falcon from the traditional Butler family crest. For Anne’s coronation ceremony, poet Nicholas Udall wrote a ballad that likened the new queen to this elegant bird of prey. “Behold and see the Falcon White!” declared one verse. “How she beginneth her wings to spread, and for our comfort to take her flight” [PDF]. The new queen also used a white falcon badge as her personal emblem; at some point, a graffitied version of this was carved into the Tower of London.

  1. Anne Boleyn’s religious views are hard to pin down, but she appeared to sympathize with reformers.

At a time when Latin-language Bibles were the norm in Catholic Europe, Boleyn consistently supported the publication of English translations—a controversial notion at the time. As queen, she and her husband arranged for the release of Nicholas Bourbon, a French humanist whose criticisms of saint-worship and other theological matters had landed him in jail. Bourbon went to England, where he tutored Boleyn’s nephew (at her request).

  1. Anne Boleyn was the first of Henry VIII’s queens to get beheaded.

Like Catherine before her, Anne Boleyn failed to deliver Henry VIII’s long-sought male heir. In 1536, she found herself on trial, accused of high treason, adultery, and incest. (Rumors circulated that she was having an affair with her brother, George.) Though many historians dismiss these allegations, they sealed her fate nevertheless. Boleyn was beheaded on May 19, 1536. Henry VIII wed his third wife, Jane Seymour, that same month. Two spouses later, history repeated itself when the king had queen number five—Catherine Howard—decapitated in 1542.

  1. It has been claimed that Anne Boleyn had 11 fingers.

When you replace a popular monarch and spur the change of the religious fabric of an entire country, you're bound to make enemies. One of Boleyn’s detractors claimed that she had a “devilish spirit,” while another famously called her a “goggle-eyed whore.”

And then there’s Catholic propagandist Nicholas Sander, who wrote an unflattering description of the former queen many years after she died. According to him, Boleyn had “a large wen [wart or cyst] under her chin,” a “projecting tooth under the upper lip” and “six fingers” on her right hand. But his claims are highly suspect. There’s no proof that Sander ever laid eye on Boleyn—plus, her contemporaries didn’t mention any of these physical traits in their own writings about the queen. At worst, she might have had a second nail on one finger—which is a far cry from saying she possessed an extra digit.

  1. Anne Boleyn’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, ruled England for decades.

Coronated at age 25 on January 15, 1559, Queen Elizabeth I defeated the Spanish Armada, promoted exploration, and foiled multiple assassination plots during her 44-year reign. She held the throne right up until her death in 1603.

  1. There’s only one surviving portrait of Anne Boleyn (that we know of).

When Henry VIII executed her, most Anne Boleyn likenesses were intentionally destroyed—and now, there's just one contemporary image of the queen known to exist: a lead disc—crafted in 1534—with Boleyn’s face etched on one side, which is held at the British Museum in London. It’s the only verified portrait of the former queen that was actually produced during her lifetime.

But there may be at least one more image of the queen out there: In 2015, facial recognition software was used to compare the image on the disc to a 16th-century painting currently housed at the Bradford Art Galleries and Museums. The picture’s subject, a young woman, has never been identified, but according to the program, the figure looks an awful lot like Boleyn’s portrait in that lead disc—though the researchers cautioned that their results were inconclusive due to insufficient data.

6 Strange Maritime Mysteries

Neville Mountford-Hoare/iStock via Getty Images
Neville Mountford-Hoare/iStock via Getty Images

The oceans cover over 70 percent of our planet, so it's little wonder that their seemingly impenetrable depths have provided a series of fascinating mysteries, from missing ships to eerie monsters. Below are six mysteries of the deep—some of which scientists think they've at least partly explained, while others remain truly puzzling.

  1. The Mary Celeste

On December 5, 1872, the crew of the British ship the Dei Gratia spotted a vessel bobbing about 400 miles off the coast of the Azores. They approached the Mary Celeste to offer help, but after boarding the ship were shocked to find it completely unmanned. The crew had disappeared without a trace, their belongings still stowed in their quarters, six months' worth of food and drink untouched, and the valuable cargo of industrial alcohol still mostly in place. The only clues were three and a half feet of water in the hold, a missing lifeboat, and a dismantled pump. It was the beginning of an enduring mystery concerning what happened to the crew, and why they abandoned a seemingly sea-worthy vessel.

Numerous theories have been suggested, including by crime writer Arthur Conan Doyle, who penned a short story in 1884 suggesting the crew had fallen victim to an ex-slave intent on revenge. A more recent theory has pointed the finger at rough seas and the broken pump, arguing they forced the captain to issue an order to abandon ship. Since the missing crew have never been traced, it seems unlikely that there will ever be a satisfying answer to the enigma.

  1. The Yonaguni Monument

An underwater area known as the Twin Megaliths at the Yonaguni Monument
An area known as the Twin Megaliths at the Yonaguni Monument
Vincent Lou, Wikimedia // CC BY 2.0

In 1986, a diver looking for a good spot to watch hammerhead sharks off the coast of the Ryukyu Islands in Japan came across an extraordinary underwater landscape. The area reportedly looked like an ancient submerged village, with steps, holes, and triangles seemingly carved into the rocks. Ever since it was first discovered, controversy has surrounded the site that's become known as the Yonaguni Monument, with some researchers—such as marine geologist Masaaki Kimura—arguing it is a clearly manmade environment, perhaps a city thousands of years old and sunk in one of the earthquakes that plagues the region. Others believe it's a natural geological phenomenon reflecting the stratigraphy (layers) of sandstone in an area with tectonic activity. The area is open to scuba divers, so the really curious can strap on air tanks and decide for themselves.

  1. The Bermuda Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle has probably spawned more wild theories, column inches, and online discussion than any other ocean mystery—more than 50 ships and 20 aircraft are said to have vanished there. Although the triangle has never officially been defined, by some accounts it covers at least 500,000 square miles and lies between Bermuda, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

The mystery first caught the public imagination in December 1945 when Flight 19, consisting of five U.S. Navy TBM Avenger torpedo bombers and their 14 crewmembers, were lost without a trace during a routine training operation in the area. Interest was further piqued when it was later reported that one of the search-and-rescue planes dispatched to find the missing team had also disappeared. Articles and books such as Charles Berlitz’s The Bermuda Triangle, first published in 1974 and having since sold over 20 million copies in 30 languages, have served to keep the mystery alive, providing potential theories both natural and supernatural. Scientists—and world-renowned insurers Lloyd’s of London—have attempted to debunk the myth of the Bermuda Triangle, offering evidence that the rate of disappearance in the vast and busy triangle is no higher than other comparable shipping lanes, but such is the power of a good story that this is one story that seems likely to continue to fascinate.

  1. The Kraken

A model of a giant squid on display at the Natural History Museum in London in 1907
A model of a giant squid on display at the Natural History Museum in London in 1907
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

For hundreds of years, sailors told tales of an enormous sea creature with huge tentacles known as the Kraken. Stories around the mythical kraken first started appearing in Scandinavia in the 12th century, and in 1555 Swedish cartographer Olaus Magnus provided an account of a sea creature with “sharp and long Horns round about, like a Tree root up by the Roots: They are ten or twelve cubits long, very black, and with huge eyes.” The stories persisted, often mentioning a creature so large it resembled an island. In his 1755 book The Natural History of Norway, Danish historian Erik Ludvigsen Pontoppidan described the kraken as “incontestably the largest Sea monster in the world."

Scientists have proposed that these stories might derive from sightings of giant squid (Architeuthis dux), although evidence for an even larger, yet extremely elusive, colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) has also come to light. The colossal squid is found in the deepest part of the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, and is thought to be up to 46 feet long and 1100 pounds. The problem is that the animal is so rare very few specimens have been found intact, and no live specimen has ever been observed, which means that estimating its exact size is difficult. Researchers have also noticed that sperm whales have been observed with large scars, and have suggested that these could be the result of violent encounters with the colossal squid, which is known to have sharp rotating hooks on the ends of their tentacles.

  1. The Treasure of the Merchant Royal

The remains of the Merchant Royal are known as one of the richest shipwrecks ever. The ship set sail from the New World in 1641 laden with 100,000 pounds of gold, 400 Mexican silver bars, and thousands of precious gems—in total, a haul thought to be worth $1.3 billion today. The ship got caught in a storm and was thought to have gone down somewhere off the coast of Cornwall, England. The lost wreck became known as the “el Dorado of the seas” due to the enormous value of its cargo, and over the years numerous treasure hunters have searched fruitlessly for its final resting place, which remains undiscovered. In 2019 fishermen snagged what is thought to be the anchor from the Merchant Royal, but to date the dangerous conditions and extreme depths at which the wreck is thought to lie have meant it has remained unclaimed.

  1. Attack of the Sea Foam

In December 2011, residents of Cleveleys, England, awoke to what appeared to be a soft blanket of snow. But as locals ventured out into the streets it soon became clear that this was no snowstorm, but instead something far more puzzling. Trees, cars, roads, and houses were all wrapped in a thick, white layer of foam. The Environment Agency were quickly deployed to take samples of the sea foam, since residents were understandably concerned as to the origin of the strange, gloopy substance, fearing it might be caused by pollutants.

The dramatic images of the foam-soaked town soon had journalists flocking to the region to investigate the phenomena, but as quickly as it appeared the foam disappeared, leaving behind only a salty residue. Scientists analyzing the foam confirmed it was not caused by detergents, and instead suspected that it was caused by a rare combination of decomposing algae out at sea and strong winds, which whipped up the viscous foam and blew it into land. The phenomena has apparently occurred at other times before and since, and researchers are now working to try and understand the exceptional conditions that cause it to form so that residents can be warned when another thick blanket is set to descend.

Bonus: The Bloop—Mystery Solved

Over the years, the oceans have produced a number of eerie and often unexplained sounds. In 1997, researchers from NOAA listening for underwater volcanic activity using hydrophones (underwater microphones) noticed an extremely loud, powerful series of noises in the Pacific Ocean. The unusual din excited researchers, who soon named it “The Bloop” in reference to its unique sound.

Theories abounded as to the origin of the bloop—secret military facility, reverberations from a ship’s engine, or an enormous sea creature. The most fanciful suggestion stem from H. P. Lovecraft fans who noticed that the noise came from an area off South America where the sci-fi writer’s fictional sunken city of R’lyeh was supposed to be. They proposed that the bloop might have originated from Lovecraft’s “dead but dreaming” sea creature, Cthulhu. In 2005, however, scientists found that the mysterious sound was in fact the noise made by an icequake—or an iceberg shearing off from a glacier.

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