When it comes to our vision, certain things are left to chance: Some people are biologically gifted with 20/20 vision, and others are practically born wearing glasses. However, there are ways to effectively maintain your eye health, regardless of hereditary factors. While it’s common for eyesight to worsen with time, you can keep your vision as sharp as possible, for as long as possible, by recognizing unhealthy habits. Here’s a list of six things you might be doing that are harming your eyes, and what to do instead.
Too much computer time (“computer vision syndrome”)
Yeah, those long hours in front of your laptop are as damaging to your eyesight as they are to your stress levels. According to WebMD, “computer vision syndrome” is a condition which affects 50 percent to 90 percent of people who work in front of computer screens. It contributes to eye strain and a slew of uncomfortable symptoms, like blurred or double vision, headaches, red eyes and eye irritation. Luckily, you can reverse your symptoms by tweaking your habits. Doctors suggest following the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. This way, you give your eyes the break they need to trudge through the next 20 minutes!
Rubbing your eyes
When you have itchy eyes, scratching them can feel like the most relieving thing in the world … but you might be doing them more harm than good. When you rub your eyes, you’re spreading bacteria that could cause major infections. You also might cause damage to your cornea and those fragile vessels around your eye. If you have an itch, rubbing might only exacerbate the problem. Instead, try to blink rapidly to “scratch” your eye or use drops to flush out the dirt.
Not wearing sunglasses
Being exposed to bright lights for an extended period of time can really damage your retina. According to the Mayo Clinic, intense glare exposure is a major cause of eye strain, and could even contribute to eye conditions like cataracts or abnormal growths. The next time the sun’s out, make sure you’re wearing UV-blocking sunglasses to prevent damage.
Wearing old contact lenses
There’s a reason your contacts have an expiration date. The longer you wear your lenses, the more bacteria accumulate. By wearing contacts past their prime, you increase your chances of getting an infection. Make sure you clean your contacts regularly and swap them out when they’re intended to be switched.
Using expired makeup
We all have our favorite eyeliner, but applying expired eye makeup can be very dangerous. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, infection-causing bacteria grows easily in liquid or cream-based eye makeup. They suggest renewing your eye makeup every three months—or immediately, if you develop an infection.
Skipping your eye exam
Your annual eye exam can seem like a chore, but it shouldn’t be avoided. By skimping out on your exam, you could be missing the detection of dangerous conditions you may or may not know you have. Plus, you could be squinting your eyes without realizing, contributing to eye strain. Even if you don’t think you have an eyesight problem, swallow the pill and visit your optometrist when your appointment comes around.