Other than wearing corrective lenses and getting regular eye exams, there’s not much you need to do to keep your eyes healthy — but there’s lots you can do to ruin their health.
Between computers, smartphones, and tablets, people spend a lot of time staring at screens. Studies show that in 2018, Americans spent more than eight hours a day on their electronic devices, and the number spiked to an alarming 13+ hours per day in 2020 when COVID-19 hit.
In addition to messing with your body’s regular sleep pattern, staring at screens can dry out your eyes, because you blink less.
You also expose your eyes to the blue light that electronic screens emit. Your cornea and retina can’t reflect those shorter light wavelengths, so you absorb them and suffer from eye strain, a condition called computer vision syndrome. Over time, excessive blue light can damage your retina cells.
Dr. Barnes may recommend blue light glasses to prevent computer vision syndrome, and you can help by taking breaks from screen time and allowing your eyes to rest and focus and other things.
Just like your skin, your eyes need protection from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Excess exposure can damage the tissue in your cornea and lens, and over time, it can lead to eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and cancer.
Wearing sunglasses that block UV rays can help you avoid these problems.
You know smoke irritates your eyes, but did you know smoking can also lead to eye disease? Studies show that people who smoke develop AMD four times more often than those who don’t smoke, and they tend to get it about 10 years earlier.
Who doesn’t reach up to rub their eyes when they get dry and tired or if allergies make them itchy? But every time you do, you risk scratching your cornea, the delicate tissue that covers the front part of your eyeball. If you damage your cornea, you may develop keratoconus, a condition that causes your cornea to bulge and blur your vision.
It’s tempting to sleep with your contacts in, but doing so is risky. Even if you just leave them in during a nap, bacteria take the opportunity to wiggle underneath the lens, where they get trapped between your cornea and your contacts. This is the perfect environment for an eye infection. Do yourself a favor, and pop out your contacts every time you get some shut-eye.
When you sleep, your entire body reboots and restores itself — and that includes your eyes. Pulling an all-nighter to study or staying out too late to socialize can take a toll on your eye health. Sure signs you’re not getting enough sleep include bloodshot eyes, dark circles underneath your eyes, blurry vision, and eye twitches.
Just as with every other system in your body, your eyes rely on certain nutrients to keep them healthy. If you’re in the habit of eating processed and fast foods, you may be harming your eye health. To keep them strong and disease-free, get plenty of leafy green and brightly colored vegetables, and make sure you add some fish to your diet.
While you’re at it, include lots of fresh water with your daily intake because your eyes need you to be well hydrated in order for them to make plenty of moisturizing, protective tears.
If you have any of these bad habits and want to check on your eye health, book an appointment using our online scheduling tool, or give us a call today.