Today, we have more information than ever at our fingertips. Google can be our best friend, offering immediate answers to burning questions about our health. Or, it can be our worst enemy, leaving us with vague info that indicates worst-case scenarios. This is where experts can help dispel myths and save sleepless nights and anxiety about our health.
When it comes to good eye health as we age, John A. Waters, MD, Ophthalmologist, says he is open to talking with patients about the research they have done on their own. In this article, Dr. Waters answers some of the most Googled questions – questions he and his staff are frequently asked:
1. Will wearing reading glasses make my vision worse?
This is a very common question. Once people reach the age of 40-50, they need reading glasses, which is part of the natural aging process when the lens of the eye starts to harden and can’t focus as well. Wearing reading glasses will not make the eyes worse, but patients find they do become dependent on glasses because they need them. The eyes will continue to need glasses until cataract surgery, which includes lens implant options that can give patients freedom from glasses again.
2. Does using marijuana help treat glaucoma?
In the 1970s, it was first reported that smoking marijuana might lower eye pressure, a primary risk for glaucoma. However, a person would have to smoke 8-10 times a day every day to even start seeing any benefits, because glaucoma needs pressure to be under control 24/7. The harm with this regimen far outweighs any benefits, since we have excellent treatment for glaucoma. And using CBD (cannabidiol) has been shown to raise eye pressure.
“When it comes to eye health, I welcome my patients to do their own research.”
Dr. John A. Waters
3. Do I have to wait to have cataract surgery until my cataracts are “ripe”?
For insurance to pay toward cataract surgery, there are a couple of requirements. The cataracts must be causing difficulty with a person’s daily activities and their vision test must meet the insurance company’s criteria. There is no requirement that the cataracts are “ripe,” though. People today are having cataract surgery much younger than in the past, because there is no need to wait to enjoy many years of good vision. And, with newer lens implants, patients often don’t need glasses afterward.
4. Will fish oil help my eyes?
As we age, we are at an increased risk of dry eyes. Omega 3 oils can help eye glands produce the oily component of tears, which helps keep the eye surface moist. Omega 3 oils can be found in supplements like Thera Tears® Nutrition and in foods like salmon, tuna, walnuts, flaxseed and spinach. However, if patients are taking a blood thinner, I recommend they talk to their primary care physician before taking Omega 3 supplements, as these might increase risk of bleeding.
5. Can I drive if my eyes are dilated?
Everyone is different, but most people can drive home from their dilated eye exam. Dilation drops make the pupil larger so the ophthalmologist can see into the back of the eye and get a clear view of the retina. With dilation, the pupils are larger and more light can come into the eyes, which means patients need sunglasses to drive because it will seem very bright outside. Usually, a person’s distance vision is still good, but near vision is blurry for several hours after dilation.
“When it comes to eye health, I welcome my patients to do their own research,” Dr. Waters concludes. “I appreciate it when they bring in what they’ve found, so we can discuss what’s best for them and relate it to what they are experiencing.”