– 80 percent of our memories are determined by what we see.
– 80 percent of vision problems worldwide are avoidable or even curable.
– 80 percent of what we learn is through our eyes.
– Discovery Eye Foundation: ’20 Facts About the Amazing Eye’
The human eye is truly an amazing organ. Aside from the brain, our eyes may be the most complex part of the human body. Similar to the brain, our eyes require adequate care to function optimally.
Read (or re-read) some of the statistics derived from the Discovery Eye Foundation preceding this introduction. Eight-tenths of our memories and knowledge is acquired through sight…impressive, but sort of predictable.
But what about the second statistic? 80 percent of all vision-related problems can be cured or prevented…80 percent!
While it’s impossible to quantify how much of that 80 percent can be attributed to poor “eye hygiene” habits, it’s likely to be quite high. The reason for this is two-fold: (1) a person’s eyes are often secondary relative to other health concerns, and (2) many of us are uneducated about proper eye hygiene.
So, we’re here to help!
In addition to discussing 8 habits unhealthy eye habits, we’re going to provide some tidbits on how to keep our two peepers healthy.
Let’s get to it!
First, here are 8 unhealthy eye habits:
1. Keeping contacts in too long
Eyecare professionals state that loss of vision and/or scarring of the eye(s) can occur if contacts are improperly used. One of the most common misuses of contacts is keeping them in for too long.
Contacts are placed atop of the cornea, which restricts the amount of oxygen exposure and may cause damage. Also, contacts will naturally become enveloped in a film-like substance if not cleaned regularly.
Advice: Strictly adhere to the instructions given by the contact manufacturer or optometrist.
2. Reading or writing with low light
For those of us who love to read, it can be a great way to relax and unwind in the evening. However, reading in a poorly lit environment causes eye strain. Although there is little scientific evidence to suggest this causes damage, it is an easily-reversible habit to safeguard our eye health.
Advice: Shine a light directly on the page, as opposed to over the shoulder.
3. Not seeing the Optometrist
“Prevention is the best cure” definitely applies to eyecare (remember: 80%). An annual trip to the eye doctor is the best rule of thumb. If you suspect something (anything!) could be wrong with your eyes, a trip to the optometrist should be in short order.
Advice: Be sure to have your eyes checked once a year. (If it helps, have someone call from the doc’s office to remind you.)
4. Rubbing your eyes
More specifically: rubbing your eyes when they are itchy. A couple of reasons why this habit is bad: (1) hands/fingers contain a boatload of germs, and (2) frequent eye-rubbing can actually damage the eye’s surface.
Advice: Use a cold compress and place them over the eyes for a few minutes. (Do not use a hot compress, and this can stimulate histamine discharge and make the irritation worse).
5. Not wearing sunglasses/other protective eyewear)
Not everyone wears shades to look cool (ok, a lot of people do). However, sunglasses – or other protective eyewear – protects the corneas from surface burn. Consistent exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays can manifest into cataracts – the number one reason for vision loss.
Advice: Buy some sunglasses with good surface protection.
6. Wearing cheap or expired eye makeup
The money you save at the cash register for budget eye makeup is definitely not worth it. Many low-cost eye makeup (e.g. mascara) products contain ingredients designed to enhance aesthetic effect, but can actually damage your eyes or eyelashes. Wear expired makeup (looking at you, mascara) can spread bacteria and pose a threat to your eye health.
Advice: Look at the ingredients in any eye care product you buy; note the expiration date, and consider buying eye makeup products from reputable companies.
7. Swimming without goggles
…or swimming with your eyes open. Both can adversely affect eye health due to pool chemicals (e.g. chlorine). Irritation, clouded vision, and even temporary blindness can occur without wearing goggles.
Advice: Wear tight-fitting swimming goggles or keep eyes closed tightly underwater.
8. Smoking (of course…)
As with pretty much every other ailment known to man, smoking can also be a catalyst for eye problems. The chemicals within cigarette smoke damages eye tissue and increases the risk of macular degeneration (and can lead to vision loss). Smoking around others also increases their risk of this disease as well.
Advice: Consider quitting (or reducing) smoking frequency. At the very least, don’t smoke around other people.