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
  • Loading

    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


    Want to stay smart and healthy?

    Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

    Sending Message
    how we use your e-mail

    Your Comments

    • bhargavkesavan

      Useful info!

    • Sal


    • Calico Roni Rosenberg

      hilarious! i saw (in summary) ‘dont use abrasive materials to clean your glasses’ and ‘polarized sunglasses make it ahrd to see IMs on your phone” and then told me to subscribe if i wanted to keep reading. it was difficult to refrain. i can, however, think of an actual thing your eye doctor probably won’t tell you about… pinhole glasses.

    • Jesus A. Fleming

      After reading this article I think we know all these but we do not take care of these. 1st point is very common. Yes you should not use tissues or toilet paper to clean your eyeglasses. Paper is made of wood, and it will scratch your lenses. We must eat enough portions, vitamins for our eyes.

    • Lolololollloololol

      I need help Cuz my eyes are quite blurry sometimes when I look at things in the distance it’s all blurry and I can’t see be cause my eyes won’t let me and I am going to the opticians next week but I want to wear glasses all the time so Evan if I have to wear them all the time yaaaaaay ( I’ve wanted glasses forages )

    • Tropical06

      I so tired of these doctors putting on the scare tactics to scare me into having the surgery. My brother in law had the surgery six months. He had an infection behind his eye and pain in the eye. He is constantly holding an ice pack on his eye. My cousin said she is sorry that she did it a year ago and she cannot see that great and has to wear eyeglasses. I thought they said in the advertisement that you will not need eyeglasses after the surgery. I can see close up but having problems with the distance. What can I do and who can I trust. Every doctor I have gone to immediately when I say cataract they want to cut. I can see, maybe not good on the distance, but I feel this can be corrected. Help in New Orleans.

      • eyediscuss

        I feel your pain. You should start recording your visits with eye doctors if possible. I’ve never done it, but a co-worker of mine records all her doctors visits on her cell phone. What a novel idea, because they are liars and cheaters of health/quality of life! Keep going to different doctors until you find someone who is transparent, and best of luck.

    • eye-girl

      I take issue with this article. I work for 3 Eye Doctors (2 ophthalmologists and one optometrist) and we discuss ALL of these things with our patients. You make it sound like eye doctors are intentionally negligent. I’m sure there area few that are like this, but the vast majority of eye doctors are very free with this information.

      • eyediscuss

        I have been told by every opthalmologist and optometrist that cataracts are never a big deal and they are just not revealed to the patient so as not to worry them, this has been confirmed by the head of my state Optometry Board. You do work for professionals who are OFTEN negligent!

    • http://www.facebook.com/tony.az.73 Tony Az

      This may sound crazy..but think of this…When you have no sunglasses you close your eyes and open them as small as possible,….but when you have glasses on you open them as wide, forgetting about the harmful rays that the glasses just don’t protect you from..They just don’t. i’m not so sure sun glasses are what they are cracked up to be…They leave your eyes unknowing open and relaxed, when our natural instinct is to shut them and squint…..

    • Dan

      What sort of eye care professional would NOT give these tips? ‘don’t sleep in your contact lenses’ is CL hygiene 101!!

    • sameen zara

      my eye sight is week 0.25 plz tell me wot should i do to recover that