10 Things Your Eye Doctor Knows — And Wishes You Did, Too

The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but they’re also the keepers of all kinds of secrets—secrets our eye doctors are in on but we typically aren’t. Those little tidbits of info our baby blues (or greens or browns) are hiding are actually chock-full of important details, not only about our eyes and vision, but about our overall health.

Using the computer doesn’t hurt your eyes, contrary to popular perception.

“It doesn’t actually cause physical damage or medical harm,” says Douglas Rhee, MD, chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, OH. Still, he adds, staring at the screen can strain your eyes, making them tired and your vision temporarily blurry, so it’s a good idea to take a break once in a while.
Mark Fromer, MD, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and the director of eye surgery for the New York Rangers, suggests giving them a rest every 20 minutes by gazing into the distance for 2 to 5 minutes and closing them to moisten them with natural tears.

Wearing glasses doesn’t make your eyes weaker.

“I get asked that all the time, but it’s a myth,” says Fromer. “The only thing that happens is that you see better.” But how often do you need a new prescription? That often depends on your age, he explains. The older you are, the less frequently you usually have to change your lenses. A good rule of thumb: Get a new pair every year if you’re a teen or young adult and replace them every one to two years if you’re older than that. Signs that it’s time to get new glasses include difficulty reading and seeing street signs, blurred vision, and headaches, Fromer says.

Everyone’s eyes are actually the same color.

“The back of the iris is brown in everybody,” explains Rhee. “The perception of blue, green or brown has to do with how thick the iris tissue is.” And it’s actually normal and natural for eye color to change as we grow up or age. “It is much more concerning if only one eye changed color, or if the two eyes had significantly different colors,” he says, which could indicate disease. And people with lighter-colored eyes, specifically those of European descent, are more likely to develop a serious but common condition known macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss and involves the deterioration of the central part of the retina. Whereas those of African or Hispanic descent (most of whom have darker eyes) have a higher risk of glaucoma.

Spending time outside can counteract the tendency of reading to make kids near-sighted.

“Although reading has been associated with inducing nearsightedness in children, it’s also been shown that if you spend time outside, it decreases the risk,” says Rhee. “So read those books and then go play outside.” We don’t know why this is the case, though scientists have speculated that it could be because the level of light intensity is higher outside than in, which triggers more of the chemical dopamine to be released in the retina. That, in turn, can prevent the eye from growing the way it does in people who are nearsighted. Another possibility? The vitamin D in sunshine, which is thought to be good for eye health and vision.

Your eyes get drier in the winter, just like your skin.

If your eyes are feeling gritty, red, or irritated lately, chances are they’re getting drier as the colder weather sets in, Rhee says. “The amount of tears on the surface of the eye is a function of how much is being secreted versus how much either drains or evaporates,” he explains. “When the air is drier, evaporation happens faster.” He suggests running a humidifier in your bedroom, lubricating the eyes with artificial tears, and drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated.

You shouldn’t go to bed with your contacts in—ever.

Don’t do it, even if the package says it’s okay, Rhee warns. “It increases the risk of complications and infections in the eye that can be sight-threatening.” Fromer says good hygiene is crucial with contacts—hand-washing before touching them, a nightly soak in disinfectant solution and a super clean case to keep them in.

Makeup can cause eye injuries.

Next time you darken and lengthen those lashes, be extra careful. “I see a lot of eye injuries with mascara brushes—people scratch their corneas,” Fromer says. “And sometimes, we see the debris of makeup getting trapped under the outer layer of the eye.” This can happen because the cells on the outside of the eye will sometimes envelop the makeup particles and grow around them, he explains. The remedy? Antibiotic drops and an eye patch. (But don’t stress—this is a relatively rare occurrence.)

Smoking can seriously damage your vision.

“Smoking increases your risk of macular degeneration—the leading cause of blindness among people of European descent in the United States,” says Rhee. So just how does the smoke from cigarettes have that potentially big of an effect on your eyesight? “Smoking damages the small blood nerves in the retina and optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss,” Fromer explains. (It’s never too late to quit.)

Your eyes may reveal other underlying health conditions.

Your eyes can show signs of a whole host of medical conditions, usually only seen by an eye doctor in a routine eye exam, including heart disease (marked by an unusual branching formation of the blood vessels in the eye or a change in their width), cancer or tumors (symptoms can include different sized pupils, sagging or drooping eyelids, and shifts in the structure of the eye), thyroid problems (bulging eyes are a telltale sign), and even HIV and other autoimmune disorders (swelling and bleeding of the retina is one of the common symptoms, though this typically only happens with very late-stage or untreated HIV/AIDS and other immune system diseases).

At some point, everyone will get cataracts and everyone will need contacts, glasses, or eye surgery.

“The natural lens of the eye is clear, but as we get older, it starts to yellow or sometimes whiten,” says Fromer, meaning the eyes’ natural transparency is lost—which is what cataracts are. Sunglasses with UV protection will slow the progression of cataract formation, however, so make sure to wear them. As for the inevitable vision loss we all have to look forward to, there’s nothing we can do to lower the risk, says Fromer, though genetics are a component. One thing you can do to delay it? Spend more time outside. As is the case with kids, adults who live more of an outdoorsy lifestyle typically have better vision and buy themselves time when it comes to needing glasses, contacts, or a corrective eye procedure.
Taken from: www.yahoo.com Author: Catherine Donaldson-Evans