UPDATE: Soon after the publication of this post, controversy sprang up online about whether Mr. Hogan's comments on eye-obscuring bangs potentially causing amblyopia are accurate. MSNBC interviewed a very skeptical doctor who said it's especially difficult to correct a lazy eye after age seven, and it follows that causing a lazy eye would also be difficult. We asked one of our medical board reviewers to weigh in on the issue, and he writes: "I have looked for any science to indicate that dangling hair can cause amblyopia, and did not find any. At least one peer-reviewed paper supports the argument that the condition develops in early childhood. Left unanswered is the question: does selectively covering one eye with hair for hours a day affect visual acuity in that eye, and/or binocular vision? One study suggests an association between 'hair covered eye' and reduced visual acuity. If visual acuity is reduced in one eye relative to another, a condition analogous to amblyopia is apt to occur. I am not sure the evidence for the concern is strong, but I do not see any decisive evidence that it is wrong, either, and some to suggest that it could -- for all intents and purposes -- be true."
Wearing side bangs, a la letting your swoopy, Nicole Richie-esque fringe cover one eye, can cause visual obscuration that can result in amblyopia, a disorder commonly referred to as lazy eye, according to Optometrist Andrew Hogan, an executive member of the Optometrists Association of Australia:
"If a young [person] has a fringe covering one eye all the time, that eye won't see a lot of detail. And if it happens from a young age, that eye can become amblyotic."
Dr. Hogan recently told the Daily Telegraph that the hair covering the eye acts like an eyepatch, which prevents the eye's access to sunlight and stimulation, which can weaken the eye and cause short sightedness:
"If you walk around with an eyepatch on all day, then that eye will end up seeing more poorly than the other eye."
Amblyopia, which occurs when the eye sends a blurred image to the brain causing the eye's nerve pathway to never develop, is most common in youngsters including teens but Dr. Hogan said research has shown vision can still be affected later in life.
The hairstyle has been popularized by celebs including Nicole Richie, Cameron Diaz and Jessica Alba. And though these leading ladies don't seem to show any visual impairments, we're not sure if we're willing risk our eyesight for a cool hairstyle.
Click through our slideshow to see celebs with side bangs and head over to the Daily Telegraph to read more about the dangers (dangers!) of side bangs.