Medic outlines the 11 bad habits that are harming your eye health

When it comes to our health, the eyes aren’t usually our primary concern. Yet most of us have some habits that contribute to poor eye health and vision problems. Sharon Copeland, optician at Feel Good Contacts outlines the top 11 bad habits that are harming your eye health.

1) Sleeping in makeup

We already know that sleeping in our makeup is bad, but did you know it could also result in sight loss? A woman who hadn’t properly removed her mascara for 25 years suffered subconjunctival concretions (dots on the underside of the eyelid filled with debris).

Expired makeup is another thing to watch out for. You should also ensure your mascara isn’t older than six months, or you could be putting your eyes at risk of (pink eye), irritation or a stye.

2) Touching or rubbing your eyes

If you have to touch your eyes, ensure you wash your hands first or you could be transferring dirt from your hands to your eyes. If you wear contact lenses then it’s especially important that you apply and remove your contacts with clean hands. It’s also important not to rub your eyes to avoid scratches on the retina and irritation.

If your eyes are itchy you can try applying some eye drops to soothe them, but remember that overusing can be counterproductive. Using eye drops too often will wash away your natural tears, which are more efficient at lubricating your eyes. Follow the instructions on your eye drops packaging or use them as directed by your optometrist.

3) Too much screen time

Constantly staring at computer screens and digital devices isn’t good for your eye health. A digital detox almost seems impossible when we rely on screens for work, for entertainment and even for directions.

Try to take regular breaks by practising the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, look 20 feet into the distance for at least 20 seconds. You can also wear blue light glasses to help take some of the strain off of your eyes.

4) Smoking

Smoking can lead to eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, which can increase your risk of vision loss. Quit smoking to protect your eyes, your GP can give you advice on how hot to quit if you’re having trouble doing it alone.

5) Not sleeping enough

A lack of sleep can negatively impact your overall health, including your eyes. Without enough sleep we can experience dry eyes and irritation.

6) Not having regular sight tests

You should be getting your eyes tested every two years, or sooner if advised by your optometrist. A professional will be able to spot any potential eye infections before they start to progress. If you’ve noticed a change in your vision, you should book a sight test immediately.

7) Not wearing sunglasses

Even on overcast days, we still need to wear sunglasses. UV rays still affect our eyes even when the sun isn’t shining. Always carry a pair of UV protecting sunglasses around with you.

8) Not eating a nutrient-rich diet

A diet rich in leafy greens and omega-3 fatty acids will help keep your eyes healthy.

Eating foods that contain lutein will help improve your eye health and lower your risk of getting an eye disease. Foods containing lutein include kale, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin, carrots and pistachios. Alternatively, you could try taking a lutein supplement, but getting the vitamin through your food is the most effective way.

9) Stop overusing and reusing contact lenses

Sleeping in your contact lenses and wearing them for longer than the recommended time is dangerous. Wearing contact lenses for too long will deprive your eyes of oxygen, drying them out and leading to irritation. Daily lenses in particular are only designed to be worn for a day, after which the lens starts to break down, and you wouldn’t want that to happen while it’s in your eye!

10) Not drinking enough water

Lack of water throughout the day won’t just negatively affect your eye health, it can also make you feel tired, dizzy and confused. Dehydration can make your eyes feel dry, if you also wear contact lenses then your eyes will feel even drier. Try to get at least 8 glasses of water a day.

11) Not wearing safety glasses

DIY can be a satisfying and cost-effective way to change things up, but make sure that you’re always wearing protective gear on your eyes. You should also wear goggles when you are:

– Drilling

– Painting

– Swimming

– Frying with oil

– Using chemicals

– Cutting the grass

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