Overabundance of eye-care products can cause "option paralysis" among consumers
"It's wonderful that we have so many over-the-counter options for eye-care now,but many people find it rather overwhelming," says Sandy T. Feldman, an ophthalmologist and the Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego. She offers some tips for navigating today's ever-expanding selection of drugstore products:
Contact lens solutions
"If you wear contacts, never switch care regimens without asking your eye doctorfirst," Dr. Feldman cautions. "Some products are not compatible with each other, or shouldn't be used with certain types of contacts."
- Use daily cleaner to clean your contacts each and every day. Place a few drops in the palm of your hand and gently rub the lens for about 10 to 20 seconds to loosen debris.
- Use disinfectant solution to sterilize the lenses. Always use fresh disinfectant solution-never "top off" old solution.
- If your eye doctor recommends it, use an enzymatic cleaner or daily protein removal liquid to remove protein buildup.
- Use products marked "preservative-free" if you have sensitive eyes or develop an allergy to the chemicals in contact lens solutions.
- Multipurpose solutions can clean, rinse, and disinfect, all with a single product.
- Store lenses in a clean case with saline solution that is frequently changed. Be sure to change the case itself on a frequent basis, too. Using a dirty lens case can lead to a painful eye infection.
"The eye drops section of the drugstore can be especially daunting, as there are literally dozens of products available now for purchase," says Dr. Feldman. "The key thing to remember is that OTC eye drops are for short-term use only. If your eyes are frequently irritated, see your eye doctor to determine the cause, such as allergens or inflammation. And to avoid infection, never share or borrow eye drops!"
- Use artificial tears to lubricate and soothe dry eyes.
- If you have itchy, red, or watery eyes, talk to your doctor about using eye drops with antihistamines, decongestants, or other medications. Overusing "get the red out" medications can make your eyes even redder.
- Most eye drops come in a liquid that imitates the feel of real tears. For longer lasting relief from dry eyes, opt for a thicker gel version.
- Contact lens wearers can use specially formulated eye drops that are gentler and won't interfere with lenses.
"Ready-made reading glasses are fine for many people, but they aren't for everyone," says Dr. Feldman. "For example, drugstore glasses can't correct astigmatism, and they also don't work for nearsighted people."
- All ready-made reading glasses have stickers indicating their power, ranging from +1 to +4 diopter, in increments of +.25. Try the lowest power (+1) first.
- Many drugstores don't carry "high power" readers-glasses with a power of +2.75 or more. If you need stronger magnification, you may need a prescription pair.
- Note that the powers of ready-made reading glasses are the same for each eye. If you need a different power for each eye, you'll need to get a prescription pair.
- Hold some reading material at a comfortable distance, about 12 to 24 inches. If you have to hold the material too far out to be able to read it, increase the power. Keep testing different powers until you can read clearly.
- There are many styles of readers to choose from, but you may want to start with a larger pair. You can always go down in size once you're used to wearing them.
"If you've tried drugstore glasses and still have trouble with your vision, see an optometrist or an eye doctor for prescription readers, bifocals, or another solution that's tailor-made for your eyes," suggests Dr. Feldman. "In the long run, it's never worth taking shortcuts when it comes at the expense of your vision."
About Sandy T. Feldman, MD
Sandy T. Feldman, MD is the Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center-voted best LASIK center in San Diego by CityBeat Magazine in 2013-and has successfully performed more than 20,000 refractive procedures. Her numerous awards include "Top Doc San Diego" and the Goldline Award, an honor granted to only 10 laser eye care providers in the U.S. each year, and she has been profiled in Forbes, Newsweek, and other respected publications. Dr. Feldman is a fellow of the prestigious American College of Ophthalmic Surgeons, as well as a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. For more information, please visit clearvieweyes.com.
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