The eyes are the windows to the world and the sheer amount of information they process daily is enough to make them weary. But, a lot of people have a few bad habits which are placing undue additional strain on the eyes and can impact vision over time.
Ruahan Naude, CEO at Dynamic Vision Optometrists, said: “It is the little things we do every day without thinking which compound to cause damage to our eyes. Staring at screens, rubbing your eyes, forgetting to wear sunglasses and even not drinking enough water can have an impact on your eyes. Be eye-wise by being aware of bad habits.”
The 10 bad habits that Naude said should be avoided are:
1. Staring at your smartphone for too long
Staring for too long at a smartphone screen strains eyes due to the glare, emitted blue light, and the constant fixation on small text. It can lead to tired and dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, and even nausea. Give your eyes a break by putting your phone down every 20 minutes for at least 20 minutes. You can also increase the size of the font on your phone so that your eyes don’t have to strain to focus on tiny text. Don’t hold the device too close to your eyes and make sure to get a good pair of blue light lenses.
2. Using generic low-grade lenses
Lenses that are bought over-the-counter or online without a proper eye exam can have a negative long-term impact on your vision. While some industry experts don’t believe that ready-made reading glasses bought over-the-counter and online can permanently damage your eyesight, it is still not the best solution due to the overall poor quality that can cause tired eyes, headaches and eye strain such as dry and sore eyes. You also don’t know if it’s the correct fit.
3. Sleeping with contact lenses in
Leaving your contact lenses in while you sleep may increase your chances of infection and can also lead to permanent damage. Regardless of how tired you are, remove your contact lenses every night.
4. Overusing eye drops
Most commercially available eye drops are decongestants and contain vasoconstrictors. They shrink the outer blood vessels in the whites of the eyes to reduce redness. At the same time, they dry out the eyes. Before long, the redness returns and more drops are needed. It becomes a vicious cycle. Long term use of eye drops containing steroids can lead to glaucoma, a disease that causes cells in the topic nerve to degenerate, resulting in loss of vision. Only use eye drops as recommended by your optometrist or doctor and for short periods.
5. Rubbing your eyes
Rubbing your eyes too hard can break the blood vessels under the eyelids. Instead of rubbing tired, irritated eyes, soothe them with a cold compress, slices of cucumber and saline drops. Vigorous eye-rubbing can cause keratoconus, which is a progressive eye disease where the cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape, which causes distorted vision.
6. Poor diet
Poor nutrition can impact your vision and be the cause of dry eyes. Some fruits and vegetables are crucial for eye health. It is important to include foods that are high in vitamins C and E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids such as citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, leafy greens, and fish.
7. Watching TV in dimmed light
Watching TV or looking at any screen in dimmed or no light before bedtime is bad for your eyes. The levels of light change rapidly in these conditions due to flickering from the screen. This means that your eyes have to work hard to process the change which can lead to eye strain, dry eyes, redness, pain, and headaches. Keep the lights on while watching TV at night and limit the amount of time you spend watching TV before bedtime.
8. Inadequate sleep
A lack of sleep can affect your eyes, causing symptoms such as twitching, dry eyes, blurry vision, and pain. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night.
9. Forgetting your sunglasses
Going without sunglasses can lead to eye strain thanks to excessive squinting. Wearing sunglasses will reduce strain on your eyes and will protect your eyes against harmful ultraviolet light. Sunglasses can help limit the effects of bright light on your eyes such as headaches, blurred vision or red eyes.
10. Misusing makeup
Anything that you put near or onto your eyes can cause infections. This includes lotions, face washes, mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, and eye creams. Use these products very carefully, ensuring that you don’t get them into your eyes. When applying mascara, keep away from your lash line to avoid blocking the oil glands in your eyelids. Throw away make up that is older than three months and do not share eye makeup with other people.