Secrets Your Eye Doctor Will Never Tell You

Everyone expects doctors to be upfront and honest, and your eye doctor is no exception. But your optometrist is keeping some secrets from you — and they affect the way you take care of your eyes. One decision involving your optometrist may be the worst you ever make (page 10).

1. ‘You’re getting my job title wrong’

an eye doctor fitting a woman for glasses
Yes, these are two different types of specialists. | Thinkstock
  • The secret: There is a difference between “optometrist” and “dispensing optician.”

“An optometrist is the person in the dark room who checks your vision and all the other things,” an optometrist explains to Buzzfeed. “A dispensing optician dispenses and fits glasses based on the prescriptions we write.”

Next: Optometrists aren’t exempt from nastiness.

2. ‘I make gross diagnoses just like other doctors’

Head lice crawl on a piece of paper.
Lice crawl on a piece of paper. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images
  • The secret: Lice and other nasty stuff can grow on your eyelids and lashes.

Think lice can only live on your scalp? Think again. Optometrists can spot head lice that have set up shop on your eyelashes and eyebrows. They’re not dangerous, but lice are extremely contagious. They quickly attach to the base of your lashes and lay eggs that rapidly hatch.

Next: Sanitization may not happen enough

3. ‘My equipment has been washed, but not sterilized’

man getting an eye exam at the optometrist's office
All the tools optometrists use should be sterilized. | Source: iStock
  • The secret: There’s a huge difference between being clean and being sterilized.

The California Medical Board sued a group of eye doctors whose “protocol was to rinse and reuse a blade on up to four eyes,” according to Fox News. The board settled with the clinic, but not before their laser-surgery patients got tested for AIDs and Hepatitis B and C. The doctors received probation.

Next: The nastiest stories about contacts

4. ‘I’ve see patients do crazy things with their contacts’

Woman putting contact lenses in her eyes
You should never reuse your contact solution | iStock.com/julief514
  • The secret: They’ve seen patients do terrible things, like reusing contact solution and using tap water or saliva to clean them.

No wonder your optometrist stresses proper contact care. “A teenage girl showed up with a corneal ulcer,” Dr. Robert Noecker told Women’s Health. “Nothing came up as unusual — until she asked to put her lenses back in so she could leave. She popped the contact lens into her mouth to moisten it, then put it into her good eye.”

Next: A carrot a day…

5. ‘Carrots aren’t the best food for vision’

Fresh carrots arranged on a wooden background.
Dark leafy greens are even better for your vision than carrots. | iStock.com/Nataliia_Pyzhova
  • The secret: Other foods, like leafy greens, benefit your eye health way more.

Your eye doctor isn’t a nutritionist. But they do know that eating your way to good vision goes beyond the wive’s tale that carrots are the best for your peepers. Sure, they’re not bad. But dark leafy greens are the big winner, as well as salmon, eggs, citrus, and berries.

Next: Avoid “seeing blue” at all times

6. ‘You can read at night’

man reading in bed next to a lamp for light
You might get a headache, but your eyes will go unaffected. | iStock.com
  • The secret: Reading in the darker hours of the day isn’t as terrible for your eyes as you think.

“Reading in dim light won’t hurt your eyes,” Eric Donnenfeld, MD tells Reader’s Digest. “The worst that might happen is that you get a headache.” A far more corrupt villain? Blue light from our electronics. As Harvard reports, this wavelength is helpful during the day — it increases alertness and mood — blue light suppresses melatonin, which is needed to sleep well.

Next: Are you in denial about the age of your eyes?

7. ‘I know when you cheat on an eye exam’

woman getting an eye exam
Being truthful will help you way more in the long run. | iStock.com/cyano66
  • The secret: Your eye doctor may never admit it to you, but they know when you’re cheating on your eye exams.

Keep in mind, the only person this hurts is yourself. Your eye doctor is there to help you, even if that means you have to start wearing glasses or restrict certain activities.

Next: Do not let your eye doctor bully you into this.

8. ‘I stretch the truth about needing surgery’

woman getting her eyes checked with a machine
Your doctor may recommend this procedure, but you don’t have to have it. | Denis_prof/iStock/Getty Images
  • The secret: Some eye doctors will pressure you into getting cataract surgery.

But there’s truly no harm in holding off on the procedure, especially if it creates a financial burden. “Cataracts rarely hurt you — they just make it hard to see, like looking out of a dirty window,” says Robert Noecker, MD.

Next: You probably handle pink eye incorrectly. 

9. ‘You should rethink treatment for pink eye’

man with pink eye
Pink eye isn’t always a simple diagnosis. | iStock.com
  • The secret: Pink eye can be caused by a virus, which isn’t treatable at home.

Typically, pink eye is a bacterial problem you can treat yourself with antibiotics. But what your eye doctor hasn’t told you is pink eye can involve a virus, which leads to light sensitivity and even vision loss. If you experience pain in your eye and become extra sensitive to light because of pink eye, you should see a doctor immediately.

Next: The worst decision you could make concerning your eyes

10. ‘Skipping your annual eye appointment is a huge mistake’

woman using her phone in bed
Waiting to see the eye doctor is a bad move. | Tomwang112/iStock/Getty Images
  • The secret: Far too many people wait until there’s something wrong with their eyes to make an appointment.

“Some blinding eye diseases have few warning signs,” Paul Harris, OD, tells Reader’s Digest. “A yearly exam is the only way to catch things early.” The people who should prioritize an appointment the most: those who wear contact lenses. You can more easily develop corneal ulcers, eye infections, and other conditions (contact lenses reduce oxygen flow to the cornea).

Next: There’s a right and wrong way to does this to your specs

11. ‘You likely damage your glasses without knowing it’

young businessman adjusting eyeglasses
Are you taking proper care of your glasses? | iStock.com/MangoStar_Studio
  • The secret: Using a piece of tissue to wipe your glasses can be damaging.

Keeping them clean is a more intricate process than many think. “Paper is made of wood, and it will scratch your lenses,” Robert Noecker, MD, tells Reader’s DigestHe recommends using a silky material instead.

Next: Your optometrist is just as annoyed by this.

12. ‘The eye test annoys me, too’

Online eye test
An online eye test could show you issues from your home. | Source: Opternative.com
  • The secret: Eye doctors’ daily tasks are just as monotonous as other jobs.

You know when your doctor makes you look through different lenses and you have to tell them which looks clearer? They think it’s just as annoying as you do. “Optometrist hell is basically asking this question for eternity and listening to the long, drawn-out, agonizing ‘errr’ of an indecisive patient,” Buzzfeed’s source says.

Next: A helpful hack for anyone with eye issues

13. ‘I use this hack for my eye drops’

Woman holding eye drops in her hand
Try keeping your eye drops in the refrigerator next time. | iStock.com/MichalLudwiczak
  • The secret: There’s a right and wrong way to store your eye drops.

Your optometrist may not share that info with you. “Eye drops (any kind) sting less if you keep them in the refrigerator,” Janice Jurkus, OD, tells Reader’s Digest.

Next: It’s tempting to go online for this service.

14. ‘Don’t order your glasses online’

man wearing yellow glasses
Do yourself a favor and try your glasses on in person. | iStock.com/KovacsAlex
  • The secret: If you order glasses online without trying them on in-person, there’s a strong chance something will go wrong.

Your eye doctor is likel secretly cursing you for it. “We can’t wave a magic wand for you and sort out a problem that you’ve caused,” Buzzfeed’s source says.

Next: Your part-time sunnies are just as important.

15. ‘You’re wearing the wrong sunglasses’

Woman wearing a pair of round sunglasses
No matter what color your sunglasses are, make sure they protect you from UV rays. | iStock.com/Merlas
  • The secret: Darker sunglasses aren’t necessarily safer.

Surely you know dark sunglasses are meant to protect your eyes from UV rays. But as Dr. Justin Bazan tells Bustle, “Wearing sunglasses with dark lenses without adequate UV protection can actually be worse than wearing no sunglasses at all because they cause the eye’s pupil to dilate, which then increases retinal exposure to unfiltered UV light.”

Next: Don’t go to bed without resolving this issue.

16. ‘Stop sleeping in your contacts’

woman sleeping in a white bed
Sleeping in your contacts can lead to a serious infection. | Povozniuk/iStock/Getty Images
  • The secret: “Your chance of infection is 10 to 15 times greater if you sleep in them,” Brian Bonanni, MD, tells Reader’s Digest.

Your eye doctor has probably told you time and again not to sleep with your contacts in. But they may be hiding just how bad this habit can be.

Next: For eye doctors, it’s hard to separate personal and professional life.

17. ‘Outside the office, I can’t help but stare at people with eye issues’

man rubbing his eyes while he works on a laptop
Man rubs eyes | iStock/Getty Images

If an optometrist sees someone who clearly has pink eye, it can be hard not to diagnose them. Same goes for spotting dry-eye syndrome, a stye, or a drooping eyelid, which can all signal bigger issues.

Next: This may sound like a good idea, but it’s far from it …

18. ‘Stop taking advice from the internet’

Senior working on computer
The internet certainly doesn’t always know best. | DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images

Really want to make your eye doctor angry? Walk into their office and talk about how you diagnosed your own eye ailment by looking it up in a Google search. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with looking up your symptoms before consulting  with a professional. Just don’t walk into their office as if you know more than they do.

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