Common Habits That Can Damage Your Eyes
"Don't sit so close to the television...you'll ruin your eyes!"
Pretty much all of us will have had this shouted at us as kids! And to be fair to our concerned parents, there used to be some truth in the saying!
Thankfully, modern technology has removed any risks of TVs harming your eyes (rejoice!), however there are many common habits that we have that can harm our eyes.
As with any medication, you should never use prescription eye drops unless they have been specifically prescribed to you. Steroid eye drops are designed to treat specific infections and conditions. If these are over used / used for longer than indicated it can decrease your eye’s ability to fight infections and naturally repair damage.
Excessive use of non prescription eye drops such us eye brighteners and soothers can create an adverse effect and cause severe irritation when you stop using the drops.
Improper Care of Contact Lenses
Statistically, you’re more likely to suffer complications from contact lenses than laser eye surgery! Most problems arise when your hands are not properly cleaned while inserting or removing lenses.As a general rule, you should wash and dry your hands before touching your contact lens case and lenses. Fresh solution should be used after each use. Even with daily disposable lenses, you should always ensure you have freshly washed and dried hands before touching your contact lenses.
Swimming / showering etc with contact lenses in should also be avoided to stop infections such as Acanthamoeba keratitis from taking hold. Acanthamoeba keratitis can be difficult to treat and can lead to vision loss in more severe cases.
Not Having Regular Eye Checks
A trip to the opticians doesn’t just check your vision; it checks some general health issues and eye diseases too. Serious eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma can often go undetected for months or even years, so it’s imperative that you keep up-to-date with routine check-ups, even if you don’t require vision correction.
People that smoke, have high cholesterol or are diabetic are at an increased risk of various eye problems, and may require more frequent checks.
Not Wearing Sunglasses
As with the rest of your body, the powerful UV rays from the sun can be harmful to your eyes and eyelids. Frequent and lengthy exposure to the sun's harmful UV and high-energy visible (HEV) rays puts your eyes at an increased risk of sunburn, cancer, cataracts, macular degeneration, pinguecula and pterygium.
It’s also important that you invest in sunglasses with 100% UV absorption or UV absorption of up to 400nm and steer well away from counterfeit sunglasses that can often be purchased online or whilst on the beach on holiday. Tests have shown that these glasses provide minimal to zero UV protection.
It’s not commonly known that smoking dramatically increases your chances of developing serious eye conditions that can lead to total and irreparable vision loss. Conditions include cataracts, macular degeneration, uveitis and glaucoma.
Luckily, stopping smoking, regardless of age, reduces your chances of developing serious eye conditions.
More information regarding smoking and your eyes can be found in our blog post: Smoking Yourself Blind.
Rubbing Your Eyes
We all do it, especially when tired, but rubbing your eyes is actually bad for you! The skin around your eyes is delicate and by rubbing them you can break the small blood vessels that sit below the skin’s surface. This results in puffy eyes and dark circles.
Serial ‘eye rubbers’ can end up suffering from a condition called keratoconus, which causes your cornea to become thinner and lose its shape. This can result to blurred vision, which cannot always be rectified by glasses or contact lenses.
Not Getting Your Beauty Sleep
Needing your beauty sleep is surprisingly accurate! When we sleep, it gives our bodies a chance to recuperate and regenerate. When we are sleep deprived, our eyes can become blood shot, puffy, dry and blurry. We can also see dark circles appear or become more prominent and also develop twitches.
It’s widely recommended that we get at least 7 hours of sleep a night to be at our best.
‘Eating carrots will make you see in the dark’. Well, perhaps not, however a good diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals is vital for a healthy body, including your eyes.
In fact, some foods are crucial for optimum eye health, especially ones with vitamins C and E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
A well balanced diet is crucial for our bodies so try to include plenty of fruit and vegetables as well as fish into your daily meals.
Makeup is a common cause of eye irritations amongst wearers. For example, using your friend’s eyeliner if they have an infection will transfer the infection to you, and mascaras that are older than 3 months can result in a bacteria build up and cause infection.
Also, failing to remove makeup before bed can clog your eyelash glands and cause eye irritation. As best practise, don’t share eye makeup with friends, always clean your brushes, always remove makeup before bed and discard makeup after the recommended time period.
Not Wearing Eye Protection / Safety Goggles
Over 30,000 eye injuries are caused by DIY projects in the UK each year. Common chores like mowing the lawn, painting and putting up shelving are among the most frequent causes.
It’s always recommended that, when undertaking any DIY task, you wear suitable safety goggles/glasses. You may feel silly wearing them at the time, but you’d feel a whole lot worse losing your sight.
Computers, Phones and Tablets
Vision issues caused by computers, phones etc. are so prevalent that a specific term has been coined for it: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS covers a range of eye problems attributed to staring at monitors / phones / tablets. Research has shown that between 50 and 90% of people that work using computers will suffer from some form of eye / vision issues.
Your eyes are using muscles to focus at all times, so when your eyes are fixed on a screen, often staring for long periods of time, it causes fatigue much like carpal tunnel syndrome.
It’s recommended that you take regular breaks from staring at your computer screen and if you’re already required to wear glasses / contact lenses, that you wear them whilst using your computer / phone / tablet.
It’s not commonly known but your overall health has an impact on your vision. Conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are directly linked with vision problems, amongst other problems throughout the body.
It’s nothing new to hear that we all need to take better care of our bodies. Try to exercise regularly and eat well to prevent problems such as high cholesterol and diabetes.
Staring at The Sun
It’s common knowledge that you should never stare at the sun. ‘Solar Retinopathy’ is a condition caused by looking at the sun for too long and can lead to irreparable vision loss.
This is due to the amount of harmful UV rays from the sun flooding your retinas and can be very painful.
As mentioned earlier, always wear your sunglasses while out on sunny days and never look directly at the sun.