So we all know that sitting to close to the TV is one of them, but how many other things that damage your eyesight could you name? Your eyes are seriously important, but our maintenance of them tends to be poor. Only half the people that attend yearly dental appointments bother to make annual eye examinations, and 37% of people who are told that they need glasses decide to wait until their eyesight worsens before they actually buy any. When it comes to the eyes, prevention is definitely better than cure, so check out these things that damage your eyesight and make sure that you aren’t worsening your vision accidentally.
1. No Shades
Sunglasses won’t just make you look good. Exposing your bare eyes to the sun is actually one of the most common things that damage your eyesight, and it can have pretty serious consequences. Do you remember Anderson Cooper’s eye patch? He got that after sunburning his eyes while skiing in Portugal. While his eyesight did recover, he had to wear the patch for a long time to let his eyes rest and heal. For absolute protection, always rock a wide-brimmed hat and shades while you’re in the sun. To be useful, you’ll want sunglasses that offer UV blocking, which is usually printed on a sticker attached to the lenses. 100% protection is standard these days, so don’t settle for a lower figure. They may cost a little more than glasses that only offer 50% protection, but UV rays are known to increase the risk of cataracts, damage the retina and increase your risk of getting skin cancer on your eyelids, so it’s well worth the extra cost.
2. Drop Happy
If you regularly use eye drops, you probably think that you are keeping your eyes in great condition. Whitening drops, for example, often look just the same as medicine, and have the added benefit of making your eyes look white and healthy. No risk, right? Wrong. Drops that reduce the redness in your eyes do so by restricting blood vessels temporarily. That’s why your eyes will appear redder than ever when the effect wears off, and the blood vessels dilate. Definitely don’t make using whitening drops a habit. Use make-up tricks to make your eyes appear whiter, instead.
3. Dry Eyes
It’s thought that over 5 million people in the US suffer from moderate to severe ocular dryness, or dry eyes, as it’s own. The condition is easily treated using lubricating eye drops, which can be picked up from any supermarket. The problem? These eye drops are often absolutely packed with preservatives, to stop them from going off as soon as you open the package. These preservatives can actually irritate the eyes and make the condition worse. Instead, opt for eye drops that come in individual blisters. One blister equals one application, which means that you can be sure both that you’ve used the right amount and that there is no unnecessary chemicals. If your eyes are itchy, try putting the drops in the fridge, first. The coolness will soothe your eyes.
4. Screen Time
Blinking is the way that the eyes hydrate themselves. When you blink, the eyes distribute fluid throughout themselves, which stops them from drying out. When you look at a screen, though, your blinking rate dramatically slows down. It leads to tears evaporating, vision becoming smeary, and even causes eyes to burn and water. When you consider this, it’s no wonder that the amount of people with dry eyes is drastically increasing. The solution? Make it an absolute habit to look away from your screen regularly. Focus on something far away, that isn’t a screen.
5. Contact Chaos
Do you wear contact lenses? Most opticians make sure that their customers know to change their cleaning fluid regularly and never to rinse contacts with water or moisten them in your mouth, but other than that, aftercare can vary. Did you know, for example, that you shouldn’t wear contact lenses in the shower, hot tubs, swimming pools or the sea? You should also take them out before bed, to make sure that your eyes get enough oxygen during the night. Don’t be tempted to buy online without seeing an optician regularly, too. The fit of your contact lenses can easily change, and wearing the wrong fit leads to the lense becoming a ‘suction cup’, which can then scratch the cornea. One scratch is enough to let bad bacteria into the eye, and risk serious infections. Look after your contacts!
6. Grab Some Goggles
Hitting the pool? Grab some goggles to stop pool chemicals from going in your eyes. Likewise if you are doing anything that releases chemicals or could result in debris hitting you. Mowing the lawn, cutting weeds, doing home repairs…be really careful that nothing can hit you in the eyes, because that’s the leading cause of cornea abrasions. Protective eyewear is a must. And be careful at all times. I once sat in A&E next to a boy who had been hit in the eye with a piece of pepperoni from his pizza. It was boiling hot, and resulted in a badly burnt eye. Ouch.
7. Neglecting Your Eyes
This may be one of the most obvious things that damage eyesight, but it’s worth saying again. If your vision changes, see a doctor. Flashing lights, pain, fuzzy vision, redness or light sensitivity can all be signs of problems, and they may not disappear on their own. It’s really hard to diagnose yourself, too. Floaters can just be a sign of tiredness, but they can also indicate a detaching retina. Nobody can tell you without looking, so don’t wait and see if it goes away. Delaying help for vision problems requires more complex surgeries, and decreases the chance of a full recovery.
So, now that you know the top things that damage eyesight unintentionally, you can take better care of your eyes. While you’re at it, check when your last ophthalmologist appointment was. Vision tests are important, so get one booked!