Can I really get an eye infection from a pool?
Yes. (Cue the Jaws theme.) "Pools are the worst, especially when they're not well maintained with chemicals to kill bacteria," says Amy Watts, O.D., of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. If, for instance, the water looks funky, rethink taking that dip.
Is it ok to swim with my contacts in?
Most docs prefer that you dive in without them. Oceans, lakes, ponds, and pools contain potentially dangerous bacteria that just love to grow in the smooth, moist environment under your contact lenses, says Watts. She sometimes prescribes the daily disposable kind that can be tossed right after swimming. Another smart option: Rx goggles.
How do I treat an eye swollen from a bug bite?
"It may look bad, but chances are you're fine," says James McDonnell, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Loyola University Health System in Chicago. "Eyelid tissue is thin and swells easily." To bring down puffiness and slow the bug toxin's spread, wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it for 10 to 20 minutes. An OTC antihistamine can ease itching, but don't scratch! If vision blurs or you spot discharge, get to a doctor right away.
Help—there's dirt in my eye!
If you wear contacts, take them out. Don't rub your eye, which could scratch your cornea. Instead, tilt your chin up, hold your upper lid open, and flush out your eye with saline solution or clean H20. Still can't get the grit out? See a doc ASAP.
How do I avoid eye wrinkles?
First, apply broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, around your crow's-feet. Since eyes are sensitive, experts advise using a non irritating zinc oxide product and skipping upper lids so you don't get it in your eyes. And, of course, always sport smart sunnies to protect this delicate area. Extra credit: Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Can my diet really help keep my eyes healthy?
Absolutely. Major eye-protecting nutrients are vitamins C and E (get them from bell peppers, kiwi, and nuts) and beta-carotene (from carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and apricots), says Elizabeth J. Johnson, Ph.D., a researcher at the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University. Other power protectors: omega-3s (in salmon and sardines) and lutein and zeaxanthin (in kale, collards, and spinach).
Yikes! I got hit in the eye with a ball. should I see a doctor?
Maybe. It's normal to experience some pain, irritation, and blurriness right after being whacked, says McDonnell, who suggests icing the area immediately (a towel-wrapped bag of frozen peas works great). If 20 minutes pass and you still have swelling and abnormal vision, call your doctor, who may want you to get a fast evaluation. Red blotches in your eye can mean broken blood vessels—not always serious but worth calling your doc about, too. Seeing flashes or floaters (they may look like tree branches or specks) after 20 minutes? Don't wait; head to the ER to check for retinal detachment, which may require surgery.
Help—there's bug spray in my eye!
It's vital to rinse out chemicals thoroughly, says Robert Chang, M.D., an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University. So flush your eye out once, then do it again. And if you got a lot in there, see a doc.
Should I get special shades for sports?
It's a good idea. Pick up a pair made of sturdy polycarbonate or Trivex, then go play! FYI: Your risk for eye injuries is greatest with activities involving balls moving at high speeds (like golf or tennis balls). If you go without a durable pair and get smacked in the eye, serious vision problems may be the price you pay.
Do I need sunglasses if I'm wearing UV-blocking contacts?
Yes. Contacts cover your cornea but not the whole eye or the skin around it. So why bother with contacts that have an ultraviolet barrier? Because they cover the extremely light-sensitive pupil. "The amount of protection varies from one pair of contacts to the next," says Chang. Ask your optometrist what level of protection is right for you. Contacts come with two: Class I blocks 90% of UVA and 99% of UVB—great for mountain hikes or beach days. Class II blocks 70% of UVA and 95% of UVB—good for everyday running around.
My eyes feel so dry in summer. What's the fix?
The season's worst offenders: aggressive A/C and hot, windy weather. If your office blasts arctic air, adopt these healthy habits: Take computer screen breaks, and be sure to blink frequently. For some people, artificial tears—either OTC or prescription—are a must for lubricating parched eyes, says Ohio State University's Randy McLaughlin, O.D., M.S.
Help—there's sunscreen in my eye!
When this happens, simply wash the product out with tap water or saline solution. Open and close your eye as you rinse. To be extra safe, use a few lubricating eyedrops to completely flush it out.
This story originally appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.