Are These Filipino Superstitions About Your Eye True? (Part 1)

Remember when you were around 10 years old and you were stuck like glue in front of the TV, anxiously awaiting the next episode of your favorite anime, excitedly singing along the Hunter x Hunter opening music.

When out of the blue, a black screen suddenly appears instead of the anime you were just watching a few minutes ago.

Dumbfounded. You look around. Lights are on. 

Somebody must have had the remote and turned the TV off. 

“Nooooooooo!!!”, you scream internally.

Then in the corner, you see your Lola.

“Ayaw lage paduol sa TV, madaot na imo mata,” she says. (Translation: Don’t sit too close to the TV, your eyes will go bad.)

You look at her pokerfaced. Immediately, you drag yourself as far away from the TV. You look at her again, smiling.

The music is back! It’s almost the end of the opening theme and the start of the new episode.

You sneak a peek at your Lola to see if she is still around.

She’s not.

You drag yourself back near the TV. 

Taking in the colorful animated characters on the screen and not really thinking that you might come to regret that decision later on when you’re an adult.

An adult with blurry vision. An adult who keeps thinking, maybe, just maybe, if I had really listened to my Lola, I might have ended up with a better clearer vision.

Hold up.

Was your Lola right? Was her advice based on scientific evidence or just some old Filipino heath superstition? Did sitting too close to the TV cause your bad vision while growing up? Or is it something else?

Well, we have rounded up a couple of health superstitions related to your eye and asked our optometrists friends to separate fact from superstition.

Superstition #1: Washing Your Face After Using the Computer (or any digital device) Will Cause “Pasma”  and May Damage Your Eyesight.

After finishing a whole season of Kingdom, you’re ready to fall into the warm embrace of your bed. You go to the bathroom, wash your eyes and look at the mirror, realizing the horror of what you’ve done.

“Noooo…I just washed my eyes after watching too many shows. My eyesight will go bad,” you scream internally.

But will it?

“There is no scientific evidence that washing your face after prolonged computer use will cause “pasma” or will damage your eyesight,” says Dr. Mary Rose Parao of Crystal Eyes Optical.

“However, excessive use of digital devices might cause eyestrain.”

“Take regular breaks using the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds,” advises Dr. Parao.

Superstition #2: Washing Your Eyes at Night Can Cause Blindness 

Just like superstition #1, there isn’t any damage done if you wash your eyes at night

“There is no scientific evidence that washing the face and eyes can cause blindness,” tells Dr. Bernadette Fellazar of Fellazar Optical Clinic. 

Rather than damaging your eyes, washing them at night might actually help.

“It’s actually good for your eyes. There are multiple irritants that our eyes can be exposed throughout the day such as dirt, dust pollen and pollutants,” adds Dr. Fellazar.

“Scientifically there are benefits of washing the eyelids with warm water, soapy water or baby shampoo before bedtime. It can gently wash away dirt and bacteria that can cause eye disease e.g. blepharitis. This condition happens when oil glands become clogged, leading to inflammation of the eyelids. It may also reduce dry eye syndrome due to eye irritants,” he concludes.

Superstition #3 If You Start Wearing Eyeglasses, Your Vision Will Progressively Deteriorate. 

Haven’t we heard this multiple times?

I have and it’s also one of the reasons why I hesitated wearing eyeglasses when I was in high school. Well, aside from peer pressure of course.

But you shouldn’t listen to them, and most especially your peers. 

You should listen to eye experts like Dr. Elaine Maceda of Maceda Eye Care Clinic who says that the prescription that is given to a patient is an aid for their eyes to correct the error of refraction that is present. 

It’s not to make it worst.

“Like when a patient has myopia or a longer eyeball, the light that enters the eye will fall short of its target, which is the retina. So that patient would need a minus or a concave lens to diverge the refracted light so that it reaches the retina and doesn’t fall short of focus.”

“However, children’s prescriptions can progressively increase in grade (even with eyeglasses on).”

Genetics usually plays a bigger part in the degradation of your vision. Environmental factors play a minimal role but it does contribute.

Superstition #4: Sitting Close to the TV Damages Your Vision

Does sitting close to the TV really damage your vision? According to the American Academy of Opthalmology, no, it doesn’t.

But it does cause eye strain.

When you watch TV, you can sit wherever you like. Yes, even as close to the TV as you want.

Your TV won’t cause any damage to your eyes, but it causes eye strain which usually leads to eye pain, headaches and you guessed it, blurry vision.

Eye strain typically occurs after too much screen time as Dr. Parao mentioned.

So, if you’ve been binge-watching that irresistible koreanovela on Netflix or you’ve been playing too many games, chances are your eyes are tired.

There’s no permanent damage done to your eyes though.

A good night’s sleep and a well-deserved rest for your exhausted eyes will make your blurry vision better.

Your Lola Loves You, So Does Your Optometrist

We hope this sheds some light on some of your questions about these Filipino eye superstitions.

Although your Lola’s advice might not be based on any scientific evidence, it’s based on something stronger, love.

More importantly, though, sitting too close to the TV might not cause any permanent damage to your eyes, it might just be a sign that there is something wrong with your vision.

So, the next time you see your children sitting too close to the TV, take them to your optometrist.

P.S. Part 2 of Are These Filipino Superstitions About Your Eye True coming soon!

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