What should we be doing to protect our eyes? – Ryan, 23
One of the main things is to protect your eyes from UV rays year-round. A lot of people think, “Oh, I only need to wear sunglasses in the summertime or when the sun’s out…” Not true! There’s a lot of research about developing cataracts and skin cancer around as a result of sun exposure.
What are the biggest misconceptions that most people have about eye health? – Evelyn, 62
People think that reading under light that’s not bright or sitting too close to the TV or computer can cause damage to your eyes. Those things can cause eye strain, but not eye damage. And, like I said, people think the sun doesn’t damage your eyes but it actually can. Another big misconception is that carrots are the best food for your eyes. While they’re fine for your eyes, there are other foods that have more significant benefits. Kale, collard and leafy greens are better because those veggies have lutein and that can give you sun protection from damage.
What are the most common eye diseases? – Elyse, 26
Cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
Any way to prevent them? – Tim, 36
Everyone will get cataracts if they live long enough. It’s like gray hair. As doctors, we don’t do anything about cataracts unless you’re unable to see or to do the things you need to do, so not everyone will need cataract surgery.
Glaucoma only affects 1-5% of the population. Glaucoma is not something that we can get rid of, but we can treat it and help prevent losing vision. It’s the most onerous because there are no symptoms and the only way to get diagnosed is to get an eye exam. Glaucoma is characterized by high pressure in the eyes that can cause you go to blind slowly. Thing is, you don’t notice that you’ve lost vision until you lose vision. The vision that people lose cannot be recovered, which is why it’s important to be diagnosed early.
As for macular degeneration, there are two kinds: Wet and dry. Certain vitamins can help with the dry form and there are certain medications that can be injected to help with the wet form.
What are the typical mistakes people make with their glasses and contacts? – John, 42
With contacts, it’s hygiene. People sleep in them for too long, especially nowadays with the popularity of extended-wear lenses. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. Even if you get extended-wear lenses, you should still take them out at night. Think about it: You wouldn’t wear the same underwear for 30 days in a row! So why on earth would you wear the same contacts for 30 days?!
Sometimes, the anti-reflective coating or anti-glare coating on glasses can peel off. But I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s a myth that you need to get new glasses every year. If your prescription hasn’t changed and you’re still seeing well with the glasses you have, then you can use those as much as you want. Yes, we recommend that people get their eyes checked every year. But every eye exam doesn’t require a new set a specs. If your glasses still work and they’re in good shape, rock on.
What’s the first question everyone should ask themselves before they say “yes” to a LASIK or other laser procedure? – Amirah, 24
The main thing to consider is your age. Around age 40 everyone, regardless of what your prescription is, loses your ability to focus on things up close. LASIK can correct your vision for either nearsightedness or farsightedness, it can only be one or the other. So, if you’re over 40 and we correct your glasses for distance, you’re still going to need reading glasses. But if you’re 18 (or 24, which is your age, Amirah) you can still be glasses-free.
With LASIK you might also correct one eye for distance and one eye for reading, but that’s something you’d simulate with contacts first.
What’s the outrageous/remarkbale encounter you’ve ever had? – Penny, 39
Oh wow. Let me think. Well, I had one patient, a very lovely woman, who’d mixed up her bottle eye drops with a bottle of nail glue. She got a drop of the glue right smack dab in her eye, and it glued her eye lids shut. It took me nearly two hours to delicately cut out the glue from her eyelashes. I used surgical micro scissors and I just took my time and removed the glue bit by bit without nicking the skin. She lost a few eyelashes but they grew back.
What surprises patients most after an eye exam? – Trevor, 33
Honestly, people are always very surprised when I tell them that everybody gets cataracts. But there’s really no reason to be concerned or worried.
You know the old wives’ tale, ‘Be careful or you’ll poke your eye out?” Is there any truth to it? – Lee, 51
You won’t actually poke your eye out, though I do see pretty significant trauma from time to time. It could be anything–a fish hook in the eye or someone who isn’t wearing safety glasses when they’re using a hammer and nail or a nail gun, but then the nail ricochets back into the eye. I treated a young child who was playing underneath a clothing rack where a coat hanger had fallen down, and the hanger went straight into his eye.
You do have to be cognizant. While there are some everyday emergencies that you wouldn’t think would happen, it’s mainly things that happen in the industrial workplace. If you work in this kind of environment, make sure you have on safety glasses at all times!