Your eyes are an essential part of your body and good eye health is important to maintain overall health. How well you see is not entirely under your control, but there are certain ways you can protect these windows to your world. Follow these simple ways to maintain healthy eyes even in your golden years.
1. Wear Sunglasses During The Day
A pair of sunglasses should not just be for that “cool” look you get when you wear them. Buying the right pair can also protect your eyes from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation of the sun. The American Optometric Association stresses the importance of wearing sunglasses with UV protection to prevent eye and vision problems.
Short-term exposure to UV rays, even a couple of hours, can cause some individuals to experience an effect called photokeratitis, known as a “sunburn of the eye.” Symptoms include red eyes, oversensitivity to light, and excessive tearing. However, this condition does not cause permanent damage to the eyes. On the other hand, long-term exposure to UV rays can cause more serious conditions, which may result in cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and even eye cancer.1
Buy sunglasses that block out 99–100 percent of the UV rays and screen out 75–90 percent of visible light. Ensure that the frame fits close to your eyes and outline the shape of your face to prevent UV exposure from all sides.
2. Avoid Overusing Electronic Devices
At work or at home, most of us end up staring either at our phones, television, or laptop screens for most part of the day. Overusing electronic devices causes your eyes to be exposed to blue light. A lot of us experience discomfort when staring at the screens for too long, causing eye strain or dry eyes. This is known as digital eyestrain.2 Blue light not only affects the eyes, but too much exposure can disrupt the sleep cycles, making it harder to sleep at night.
The easiest way to avoid eye strain from blue light is by following the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, focus your eyes on an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This can provide relief from the strain.
3. Don’t Rub Your Eyes
When a foreign matter like dust enters your eyes, it is only natural to rub them to get rid of the irritation. Rubbing your eyes may make you feel good, but chronic rubbing is actually harmful to the eyes. It can result in the weakening and distortion of the cornea – the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris and pupil.3 It can also cause the skin around the eyes, including the eyelid, to lose its elasticity. If you forget to wash your hands before contact with your eyes, rubbing could even lead to an eye infection.
So, if you need to rub your eyes, do so gently. For instance, the amount of pressure that should be applied should be equal to the pressure you use to wash your face with a washcloth or dry with a towel. Rubbing your eyes hard that it induces a sensation of light, without seeing is certainly bad for the eyes.
4. Use Chemical-Free Eye Drops
If you suffer from dry eyes or redness in your eyes, the easy-way-out for immediate relief would be a bottle of eye drops. In fact, a lot of people turn to eye drops because it is easily available and don’t even require a doctor’s prescription.
However, using eye drops, especially those containing chemicals, could be doing more harm than good for your eyes. Many ingredients go into an eye drop bottle, including preservatives that increase the shelf-life. These added chemicals could increase eye irritation and cause other damage. Sometimes, the tip of the bottle could get contaminated by contact with other surfaces, which could temporarily blur your vision. Using expired eye drops is a definite no-no because it could lead to an eye infection.
Before using eye drops, it is better to talk to your eye doctor and know what you can do to ease dry eyes or redness. Before purchasing an eye drop, it is a good practice to read the label carefully. Using natural eye moisturizers may help your problem.
5. Avoid Using Expired Makeup Products
The products you use around your eyes also play an important role in eye health. Eyeshadows, eyeliners, and stick-on eyelashes are some products that are used in and around the eyes. Using poor-quality makeup products or, even worse, expired ones can cause irritation, dry eyes, or eye conditions like conjunctivitis. Therefore, it is important to exercise caution even with your makeup.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before using any products on your face or eyes.
- Read product labels to ensure that they are not expired.
- Avoid sharing makeup products to avoid infections.
Equally important is to remove makeup before bedtime. A lot of us have gone to bed with our makeup on, waking up feeling guilty even though it is not the right thing to do. But, make that effort to remove makeup before bedtime. You’d not just be doing your skin a favor, but your eyes too.
6. Quit Smoking Or Never Start
Smoking is a bad habit and is injurious to health, causing health conditions like heart diseases, stroke, and cancer. But, many people go ahead with it, especially if they’ve been doing it for too long and it can do a lot more to health, including your eyes. Research shows that smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).4 Smoking is a physical addiction and a psychological habit and quitting overnight may not be possible for all. If you are planning to quit, you can begin with this START plan.5
- S – Set a quit date.
- T – Tell your friends, family, and coworkers that you plan to quit smoking.
- A – Anticipate and plan for the challenges you will have to face during the quitting period.
- R – Remove cigarettes and tobacco products from your car, home, and workplace.
- T – Talk to your healthcare provider to help you quit easy and, most importantly, trust yourself.
7. Protect Your Eyes With Safety Goggles
Your is probably the safest and unthreatening place you can think of. However, surveys conducted report that certain areas in the house like the yard or garage are the common sites for serious eye injuries.6 Using cleaning products like bleach, mowing the lawns, cooking foods that can splatter oil, using hot objects near the face like a curling iron, and drilling or hammering screws or nails are some of the activities that could cause damage to the eyes in the house.
To protect your eyes from irritants and other possible eye injuries, it is important to wear safety goggles. This might seem like an unnecessary precaution, but it is okay to look geeky and protect your eyes from an injury, especially if you are doing something that you are not trained to do.
8. Remove Contact Lenses Before Sleep
Contact lenses are perfect to make you look glamorous at a party. They come in different colors and you could look your best and feel good about yourself. Some of us use them almost every day to avoid the burden of heavy glasses. Whatever may be your reason for using contact lenses, it is important to remove them before you prepare yourself for bed.
During the day, your eyes are in contact with a number of irritants and your lenses may become a breeding ground for bacteria. Wearing contact lenses also reduces the available oxygen and sleeping with these on can cause corneal infection, dryness, and other irritation.7
9. Visit The Eye Doctor Regularly
You might think that your vision is fine and that your eyes are healthy because they are not causing you any trouble. But, the only way to confirm this is to visit your eye doctor and perform the eye exam. A lot of people, especially children, don’t realize that they can see better with glasses unless they are introduced to them. In addition, common eye conditions like glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration often have no symptoms at all during the initial stages of the disease. These can be confirmed only with an eye exam and treating them right from the beginning may help reduce their effects on vision.
Although your family eye history and genes have a lot to do with your eye health, following a good eye hygiene, like the steps mentioned here, can help protect your eyes from early damage.
|↑1||Do Your Sunglasses Really Protect Your Eyes from the Sun? The American Optometric Association.|
|↑2||Should You Be Worried About Blue Light? American Academy of Ophthalmology.|
|↑3||Rubbing Your Eyes Feels Good, But It’s Bad. The University of Utah Health.|
|↑4||Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration. National Eye Institute.|
|↑5||How to Quit Smoking. Helpguide.org.|
|↑6||Eye Injuries at Home. American Academy of Ophthalmology.|
|↑7||Goodlaw, Edward. “Risk of infection from sleeping with contact lenses on: causes of risk.” Optometry and vision science: official publication of the American Academy of Optometry 73, no. 3 (1996): 156-158.|