06 Oct Seemingly Harmless Habits That Actually Hurt Our Eyes
Unlike obviously bad habits, most people, especially children, are normally not conscious of bad eye habits that they do every day.
Some habits may be generally “harmless” but over time, the effects of uncorrected behavior can catch up.
Rubbing the eyes.
Rubbing can cause the blood vessels around our eyes to break and this can result in dark circles, puffy eyes or droopy eyelids. It unnecessarily expedites the aging process so be gentle around that area. If you feel your eyes are irritated, a cold compress will help.
Reading inside a moving vehicle.
For starters, it can make you dizzy. The constant movement requires your eyes to adjust to the movement and this can cause eye strain.
Ogling your gadgets during bed time.
Another bad habit that can cause eye strain is staring at your mobile device in bed, particularly with the lights off. The change in light levels makes your eyes work harder to process the changes and this can cause headaches, blurred vision and dryness.
Not using safety goggles.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), “nearly half of all eye injuries each year occur in and around the home,” and the figures are increasing each year. AAO and the American Society of Ocular Trauma actually recommend that every household keep at least a pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear for use during activities that may pose a risk for the eyes.
What sort of activities are these?
- Using hazardous products and chemicals like bleach for cleaning or solvent;
- Cooking food items in hot oil which can splatter;
- Drilling or hammering nails or screws into hard surfaces;
- Mowing the lawn;
- Clipping bushes or hedges;
- Using power tools; or
- Any task that produces particles or fragments that can potentially irritate the eyes.
AAO also shares the following tips to avoid eye injuries at home:
- Carefully read the labels of chemicals you are using. Don’t mix products because it may cause a harmful chemical reaction.
- If you children and senior citizens at home, cushion sharp corners and edges of furnishings and fixtures which can hurt their eyes.
- Make sure spray nozzles are directed away from you before actually spraying.
- Use grease shields to protect yourself from hot oil splatter when frying.
- Before starting a construction project, make sure that all your tools are in good condition so it does not break down. Check the work area for debris and other particles that can become a projectile.
- Aside from your safety goggles, always wear appropriate clothing that sufficiently covers and protects your body.
Use of eye protection, albeit a different kind, also applies when swimming. The chemicals in pools can irritate the eyes especially after prolonged exposure. For regular days out, it is also important to wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays.
Not getting enough sleep.
Aside from making you cranky and contributing to unwanted weight gain and depression, sleep deprivation can also hurt your eyes. Symptoms include dryness, involuntary twitching, blurred vision and eye strain. At least seven hours of sleep a night is crucial. And remember: keep that mobile device away from your bed.
Speaking of sleeping, make sure you don’t sleep with your contact lenses. It increases the risk of infection and could even lead to permanent damage. And don’t forget to wash your hands and use (not expired) contact solution before touching your eyes.
Neglecting proper dietary choices.
What you eat affects your eye health. And it should come as no surprise that fruits and vegetables are crucial for keeping your eyes healthy. Your eye-friendly menu should include food items rich in vitamins C and E, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids like fish, leafy green vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Of course, the best way to down a healthy meal is with good ol’ water. Proper hydration helps keep your eyes well-lubricated and aids in tear production.
Not checking in with your eye doctor regularly.
Regular visits can help detect potentially serious eye issues and other health problems that manifest symptoms through your eyes. Your doctor can also assess your vision and make recommendations for visual implements, as necessary. Proactive eye care will protect you or your children’s eyes from eye health and vision issues like myopia—a silent and growing epidemic today. When it comes to your health in general, prevention is key so book that appointment!
Being careless with your eye make-up.
When applying eye make-up, make sure you don’t block the oil glands in your lids by applying away from the lash line. A build-up can cause infections. Proper make-up maintenance is also important. Throw away make-up items older than three months because these can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Generally speaking, smoking is bad for you.
All About Vision cites research which found that smoking is linked to cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eyes and diabetic retinopathy. Smokers are said to be four times more prone to blindness compared to non-smokers.
The good thing about habits is that they can be learned or unlearned, no matter how young or old you are. So, when it comes to your eyes, make sure you’re learning the right ones.
Got other habits or tips to share? Join the online conversation here.
Dr. Page’s own vision struggles helped propel him into the optometry field. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of South Dakota and a Doctor of Optometry from the New England College of Optometry in Boston, he launched his career in Phoenix.