13 Secrets Your Eye Doctor Won’t Tell You

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

By Michelle Crouch
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine June 2011
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    Most people know that UV radiation can damage skin,

    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,

    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,

    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

    Eyedrops (any kind) sting less

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

    Reading in dim light won't hurt your eyes.

    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

    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

    Pinkeye isn't always benign:

    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.

    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.

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

    Never use tissues or toilet paper to clean your eyeglasses.

    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,

    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,

    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

    If you're over 60 and considering LASIK,

    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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    Your Comments

    • Tdyklt

      Your webb pages are too slow and awkward to get to the info and why would any doctor with0ld it.

    • Lauren

      How about a lens cleaning cloth? It is made to clean lenses! This aritcle is a terribly sad to read. I work with an extremely skilled and caring group of Opticians, technicians and a wonderful Optometrist who truly believes in helping people acheive their BEST vision and eye health. We make sure that our patients are educated about their eye health in addition to designing a prescription especially for them. We make them aware of benefits of well-made lenses (which are more expensive because they are made with the latest technology and therefore offer optimum sight correction) and make sure that the frame they choose is actually a frame that will enhance their appearance. I think there are definitely practices out there that leave much to be desired in the way of customer service and it is up to the consumer to find the best doctor for them. People…please do your research before hitting up one of the big chains just because it is less expensive. Also, watch out for online businesses selling glasses and contact lenses. These companies are not always operating legally and their focus is NOT on the health of your eyes or your best vision, it is on money. Sounds funny to say being that they are usually offering huge discounts and extremely cheap options on glasses/contacts, but they make their money in volume of sales. The more they push that your eye doctor is the bad guy, the better their sales. I am so troubled that Reader’s Digest would publish this article at all. There are great optometrists out there who truly do care about their patients and it is ridiculous to try to instill mistrust the industry as a whole. Shame on you Reader’s Digest. This is not helping people be empowered, it is simply misinformation. SHAME!

    • Makhan Barha

      Mahmood Ali Khan These are not actually secrets. But it is helpful to be reminded. Thanks

    • Yongke12003

      Any way, it is kind to share this information. So it return to say thank you for the author.

    • Woods

      An optometrist found my cataracts when I was in my mid-50′s.  An opthalmologist said they were only incipient, and could wait a year or so.  I waited a little over a year. By that time the cataracts were very thick and brunescent (brownish.)  Another ophthalmologist said they were quite old. I must have had the “incipient” cataracts for a long time.  Not realizing how bad my vision was in dim light, I had been driving over yellow lines, etc., and could have had an accident.  After the first surgery I regained my color vision but not my visual acuity.  Twenty years later that eye is 20/200, but I had a better surgeon and a more successful surgery in the other eye.  I’m sure some doctors pressure patients too much, but the first opthalmologist I saw was too casual.  I should have gotten a second opinion. 

    • Sclarkhighway

       Very good article! Thanks a lot!!!!

    • CLS

      As an eye doctor, I am very disappointed in the choice of the title of the article.  On a regular basis, I tell and remind my patients of these tips listed.  I feel that this article is going to make patients question the integrity of the Optometric profession.  

      • Krw1215

        Doc:  Give me some free advice LOL.  I was told to take a supplement because I have a genetic predisposition to Macular Degeneration.  The Dr. also said there was a certain type of supplement that I should not use because at one time I was a smoker and one type of supplement had been shown in studies to trigger lung cancer.  Are you familiar with this?

      • eyediscuss

        I must pose this same question to you, sorry for the duplicate posts, but I would like an eye doctor to tell me that they do tell their patients when they see cataracts, and especially that they are supposed to, thanks:

        I take it you are a doctor then. Do you tell your patients if you detect cataracts? Most doctors don’t, not even opthalmologists. My state Optometry Board says it’s not really a disease so they don’t see any reason to reveal this to the patient/worry them. Seriously?!????!!!!

    • Ms. Sindee

      And I prided myself on knowing some of this. Glad I read the article. Learned some things. Good job ! 

    • Bettytupperware

      I was hoping for more info on dry eyes.  The restasis isn’t helping as much as it did in the beginning.

    • http://www.goodhealthnaturally.com Dave Meyer

      The reason Spinach and Kale are good for your eyes are that the provide Lutein and Zeaxanthin which protect the macula, where the sharp vision is concentrated. If you suffer macular degeneration, it is too late to reverse it by eating these alone. The best and most effective way is to get a supplement that is sprayed under your tongue, as it gives 10 times the absorption compared to tablets and does not get lost in the digestive tract.