It’s one of the oldest lessons that many of us have heard since childhood: If you leave your eyes crossed for too long, they’ll get stuck that way. No one knows exactly how this idea of one’s eyes getting stuck if you cross them actually got started, but exhausted parents around the world could probably hazard a guess.
Luckily, this is one childhood story that you can definitely chalk up to mythology, along with the claim that squinting a lot will permanently damage your eyesight or eating a lot of carrots will improve it. According to KidsHealth, none of these claims are remotely true.
It turns out that your eyes are meant to move closer together and will always return to normal, according to the VMR Institute. In fact, crossing your eyes is really just increasing the natural movement of your gaze when you attempt to view something up close and will not permanently harm you, per the Fort Lauderdale Eye Institute.
Crossing your eyes can cause strain
However, that doesn’t mean that you want to spend all of your time with your eyes crossed. Dr. Richard Rosen, director of ophthalmology research at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, explains to ABC News that crossing your eyes and keeping them that way can definitely cause eye strain. You might experience twitches or spasms as a result, so it’s something to keep in mind.
There’s another big myth about eyes that many of us accept as completely true. For example, did you know that sitting too close to the TV won’t actually damage your eyes or your vision? Dr. Rosen also says that the real problem is a lot of people won’t blink if they’re too close to a screen, and that can cause tiny tears in the eye that are temporary in nature. “If a tear film is a little on the dry side from not blinking sufficiently…then the quality of vision suffers. It’s sort of a temporary phenomenon,” he states.
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