The human eye is truly an amazing organ. It’s important to get rid of any habits that are unhealthy for your eyes. That’s because aside from the brain, your eyes may be the most complex part of the human body. Similar to the brain, your eyes require adequate care to function optimally.
– 80 percent of our memories are determined by what we see.
– Vision problems worldwide are avoidable or even curable 80 percent of the time.
– 80 percent of what we learn is through your eyes.
– Discovery Eye Foundation: ’20 Facts About the Amazing Eye’
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 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 strain. Although there is little scientific evidence to suggest this causes damage, it is an easily-reversible habit to safeguard our vision 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 vision care (remember: 80%). An annual trip to the OD is the best rule of thumb. If you suspect something (anything!) could be wrong with your vision, 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.)
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 rubbing can actually damage the 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 gear)
Not everyone wears shades to look cool (ok, a lot of people do). However, sunglasses – or other protective gear – protect 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 makeup
The money you save at the cash register for budget eye makeup is definitely not worth it. Many low-cost makeup (e.g. mascara) products contain ingredients designed to enhance aesthetic effect, but can actually damage your vision or eyelashes. Wear expired makeup (looking at you, mascara) can spread bacteria and pose a threat to your vision health.
Advice: Look at the ingredients in any product you buy; note the expiration date, and consider buying makeup products from reputable companies.
7. Swimming without goggles
…or swimming with your eyes open. Both can adversely affect vision 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 problems. The chemicals within cigarette smoke damage tissue. Additionally, it may increase the risk of macular degeneration (and can lead to vision loss). In fact, 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.