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3 Things Your Eye Doctor Wishes You Didn’t Do

By DR. EMILY THOMAS

1. Don't wear your contact lenses longer than the recommended time period.
Replacing your disposable contact lenses at the scheduled time is vital to your eye health and quality of vision. Replacement time can vary anywhere between every day and only a couple times per year depending on the lens brand, but your doctor has a reason for talking to you about sticking to the appropriate schedule. This also applies to the number of hours spent wearing the lenses without removing them -- the longer a lens is on your eye, the more likely it is to harbor bacteria. This can lead to eye infections of the cornea, the surface tissue of the eye. If not treated immediately, these infections form ulcers on the cornea that can scar and potentially cause permanent vision loss. Studies have shown that your lens-wearing schedule, specifically if worn overnight, is the greatest risk factor for infection. Even if you've never had a problem like this before, be sure to always replace your contact lenses when you're due. It only takes one bad infection to create a lot of problems.

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2. Don't postpone your annual eye health exam.
As eye doctors, we hear every possible reason for not getting your eyes checked annually, and some of them are actually pretty good. Insurance coverage, other health problems, family concerns and more can easily take priority over your annual visit to the eye doctor. However, we want to encourage you to take the short amount of time to make sure your vision and eyes are healthy once a year. Not only does your eye doctor help you see better with new glasses or contact lenses, but he or she can also detect health conditions just by looking in your eyes. The blood vessels inside your eyes can tell us a lot about how healthy the rest of your body is by revealing signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Did you also know that dry eyes could indicate rheumatoid arthritis and that there are usually no symptoms of glaucoma until the disease is advanced? The sooner your doctor detects either a systemic problem or eye condition, the easier it is to treat.

3. Don't hope your eye infection or vision problem gets better on its own.
Too often eye doctors have seen patients with serious eye conditions like retinal detachments or severe eye infections who have waited too long to come see us. These conditions usually start out as an easily-managed problem, so time is of the essence when it comes to treating them. Please don't think you are being a "complainer" or "problem patient" if you need to seek answers for your symptoms. Your vision and eye health is our number one priority and we are here to help you. Eye doctors are people who enjoy solving problems, so we enjoy using our knowledge and experience to improve your condition. Get established with an eye doctor you trust so you have someone to call right away when you have a concern.

–Dr. Emily Thomas

Readers -- How often to you get an eye exam? Do you wear contact lenses or glasses? Were these tips helpful? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Dr. Emily Thomas is an optometrist in a multi-doctor private practice with four offices located in and near Springfield, Missouri. She especially enjoys fitting specialty contact lenses, treating eye diseases, and interacting with patients. She is also involved in social media, and you can find more helpful eye information on their blog, website, and Facebook.

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