Our eyes put up with a lot: Hours in front of the TV or computer, low mood lighting in a restaurant, squinting into the sun while driving (even with sunglasses). There’s a long list. Despite how important our eyesight is, we tend to take it for granted.
There are certain habits, in particular, that we continue to put our eyes through that are actually quite damaging. If any of the following sound familiar, now’s the time to stop. You’ve only got the one pair, after all…
Rubbing or touching your eyes
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Right off the bat, picture all the things you touch and handle throughout the day and really think about how often you’ve washed your hands. Probably not a whole lot. When you start rubbing and touching your eyes, all the things you touched that day can now become transferred to your eye. That includes germs, bacteria, and anything else that can make us sick or cause infection.
Worse yet, the more you rub your eyes, the more minor tears in the tissue can occur. They can break and damage capillaries, and you might end up with visible veins which can make you look older – or end up with dark spots around the eye.
When your eye is feeling itchy, keep your eyelid closed to avoid any germs from entering your eye, and be gentle with rubbing. It can damage blood vessels and cause inflammation. Overall, keep your hands away from your line of vision, and wash them before rubbing or touching your sensitive eyes.
Skipping an eye exam
You may think that as long as you can see your surroundings, you have no problems with your vision. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it! So you continue to put off that eye exam appointment because you feel your eyes are fine. Not good!
Just because you can see alright, doesn’t mean there aren’t underlining issues developing. Whereas most of the rest of your body will create pain when something is wrong, your eyes do not have pain receptors and therefore symptoms reveal themselves in different ways.
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Don’t wait until you notice a difference in your vision to see an eye doctor. By that time, it may be too late. Regular visits are a must, especially as you get older.
Using expired eye health products
Do you have a habit of just holding onto medications, eye drops or solutions? Well, if you’ve been looking at the same bottle for quite some time, it’s probably past its expiry date and should be thrown away. Just because drops and solutions aren’t something you ingest through your mouth, they are still being absorbed in your body and can be dangerous once they expire.
If you wear contact lenses, expired solution is a no-no. The cleaning properties in the solution are meant to kill bacteria, so the contacts are safe to put in your eyes. Over time, these ingredients lose their potency and if they aren’t killing the bacteria, that means the bacteria is entering your eyes. The same goes for over-the-counter or prescribed drops; they, too, will become less effective post-expiry date.
You may want to do a clean sweep of your medicine cabinet and ensure your products are still safe to use. It’s not worth risking your vision over a few droplets.
Eating poorly and missing out on key nutrients
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An eye-friendly diet consists of leafy greens, fruits and vegetables, and omega-3s – the healthy fatty acids which you can get from most fish. Two main nutrients your eyes require are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are commonly found in vegetables. These nutrients act as important disease-fighting antioxidants for the eyes and the body as a whole.
If you’re always picking up a meal on the go, it’s time to switch up your diet. What you eat can also affect how you see, so a diet filled with fresh, colorful produce, lean proteins and whole grains is your best bet for your eye health.
Your vision doesn’t need to get worse just because you’re getting older. You can take these important steps as good insurance for your eye health. By swapping out a few of these bad habits, you can keep enjoying those day-to-day activities, like going for a drive, reading the newspaper, and watching your favorite TV program, for years to come.
Reprinted with permission from Bel Marra Health.