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11 Secrets Your Eye Doctor Won’t Tell You

Eye doctors reveal their secrets for the best way to take care of your eyes to improve your overall eye health

Secrets your eye doctor won’t tell you

An annual visit to the eye doctor, or optometrist, usually involves reading an eye chart, a cover test to see how well your eyes work together, and other comprehensive exams that test eye movements and depth perception. At the end of your yearly eye visit, your doctor shares the results, and encourages you to maintain good eye health. However, your optometrist may not be so candid when it comes to the way you take care of your eyes.

For better eye care, top eye doctors share 11 secrets to help protect your eyes.

istock/Jacob Ammentorp

Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement

“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, Scottsdale. Don’t miss these other 10 sunglasses myths that might be ruining your eyes.

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Carrots aren’t the secret to eye health

“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, New York City. Check out these other habits that can improve your vision that have nothing to do with eating carrots.

istock/Вадим Лодочников

Polarized isn’t best for every situation

“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, optometrist at Illinois College of Optometry, Chicago

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You’re storing your eye drops wrong

“Eyedrops (any kind) sting less if you keep them in the refrigerator.” — Janice Jurkus, OD, optometrist at Illinois College of Optometry, Chicago. Plus, check out these everyday habits that can save your eyesight.

istock/Jeanett Flynn

You can stop fearing night reading

“Reading in dim light won’t hurt your eyes. The worst that might happen is that you get a headache.” — Eric Donnenfeld, MD, cataract specialist, Long Island, New York. Find out these simple habits you can do every day to improve your eyesight 

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Head to the doctor for pinkeye

Pink eye 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 pink eye is bacterial. Robert Sambursky, MD, ophthalmologist, Sarasota, Florida. Find out some surprising diseases eye doctors notice first.

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Don’t wait until there’s a problem

“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, associate professor at the Southern College of Optometry, Memphis

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Don’t just use anything to wipe your glasses

“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, ophthalmologist, Fairfield, Connecticut. Don’t miss these other 9 things eye experts aren’t telling you about glasses.

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Sorry, but dilated pupils mess with your vision

“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

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Stand your ground when it comes to money

“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, ophthalmologist, Fairfield, Connecticut

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It pays to wait

“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, ophthalmologist, Fairfield, Connecticut. No matter how old you are, try these 10 foods to slash your risk for macular degeneration.

Sources
  • Stephen Cohen, OD, past president of the Arizona Optometric Association, Scottsdale
  • Andrea Thau, OD, associate clinical professor at the SUNY College of Optometry, New York City
  • Janice Jurkus, OD, optometrist at Illinois College of Optometry, Chicago
  • Eric Donnenfeld, MD, cataract specialist, Long Island, New York
  • Robert Sambursky, MD, ophthalmologist, Sarasota, Florida
  • Paul Harris, OD, associate professor at the Southern College of Optometry, Memphis
  • Robert Noecker, MD, ophthalmologist, Fairfield, Connecticut

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