13 Secrets Your Eye Doctor Won’t Tell You

The experts weigh in on the best way to care for your eyes.

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Most people know that UV radiation can damage skin,

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but they don't realize it's also bad for eyes. You wear your sunglasses only when it's sunny? That's like saying 'I only smoke sometimes.' Wear sunglasses big enough to block the light from above and below—they should have thick sides or wrap around. If you wear contacts, ask for UV coating.—Stephen Cohen, OD, past president of the Arizona Optometric Association

Despite what generations of parents have told their kids,

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carrots aren't the best food for your eyes. That honor goes to spinach, kale, and other dark, leafy veggies.—Andrea Thau, OD, associate clinical professor at the SUNY College of Optometry

Polarized sunglasses are great at reducing glare,

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but they can make it difficult to see the LCD on your cell phone or navigation system. It's harder to see an ATM screen when you've got polarized sunglasses on too.—Janice Jurkus, OD

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Eyedrops (any kind) sting less

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if you keep them in the refrigerator.—Janice Jurkus, OD

Reading in dim light won't hurt your eyes.

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The worst that might happen is that you get a headache.—Eric Donnenfeld, MD

Don't just grab any old bottle of eyedrops out of your medicine cabinet

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when a new problem comes up. If you have an infection, steroid drops might make the redness look better, but the infection could get worse. I've had to remove people's eyes because of that.—Brian Bonanni, MD, an ophthalmologist at Gotham LASIK, New York City

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Pinkeye isn't always benign:

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a number of patients end up with light sensitivity and even vision loss. But many physicians treat it with antibiotics that won't help if the cause is a virus. We do a rapid test for adenovirus—if that's what you have, we treat it very differently than if your pinkeye is bacterial.—Robert Sambursky, MD, an ophthalmologist in Sarasota, Florida

No, it's not okay to wait for symptoms to appear.

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Some blinding eye diseases have few warning signs before they've taken away your vision. A yearly exam is the only way to catch things early.—Paul Harris, OD

Take extended-wear contacts out before bed.

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Your chance of infection is 10 to 15 times greater if you sleep in them.—Brian Bonanni, MD

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Never use tissues or toilet paper to clean your eyeglasses.

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Paper is made of wood, and it will scratch your lenses. I like to use my tie because it's silk and really smooth.—Robert Noecker, MD

Many of you seem to think you can go on with life as normal immediately after I dilate your eyes,

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but it'll be two or three hours before you can do anything that requires concentrated visual attention. Sometimes people get irritated that they can't read a 12-page document.—Paul Harris, OD, associate professor at the Southern College of Optometry, Memphis

Some doctors pressure patients to have cataract surgery right away,

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but if it creates financial problems for you, there's usually no harm in waiting. Cataracts rarely hurt you—they just make it hard to see, like looking out of a dirty window.—Robert Noecker, MD

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If you're over 60 and considering LASIK,

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wait until you develop a cataract. Then we can fix your vision as part of the cataract surgery, and your insurance will be more likely to pay for it.—Robert Noecker, MD


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