6 Habits That Are Hurting Your Vision More Than You Realize – CNET

It’s easy to take your vision for granted — especially if you’ve been genetically blessed with 20/20 vision. However, there may be certain daily habits that are causing more harm to your vision than you realize. Whether you spend most of your time looking at your cellphone or laptop or you wear your contacts all day long, you may not know how much these things are taking a toll on your eye health and vision. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in the next 30 years at least 150 percent more people will develop vision issues. It’s never too early to care for your vision, since it will improve your chances of limiting vision problems later on in life.

Below are some of the most common things you may be doing that hurt your vision, along with preventative measures you can take. Please note, if you’re experiencing worrisome changes to vision or eye health, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your eye care provider, who can handle the proper exams required.

Using expired makeup

It’s easy to forget that your favorite makeup products have a life span, especially when you use them every day. However, using expired mascara and eyeliners can put your eyes at risk of infection. A good rule of thumb when determining when it’s time to ditch the product is to look for the Period After Opening, or PAO. This stamp will tell you how long you’ve got after opening the product before it needs to be replaced. For example, usually mascara can last about three months. It’s also important to properly store your cosmetics. Improper storage can affect the longevity of a product and can lead to the growth of bacteria or mold, putting you at risk of an infection. 

Reusing contact lenses

If you think you’re saving money by recycling your contacts, it may end up costing you more in the long run. As someone who used to do this and as a result ended up with multiple eye infections, I can attest that it’s a habit worth breaking. When I switched to using daily contacts and interchangeably using glasses, I drastically reduced my chances of developing an eye infection and kept my eyes healthier. Changing to dailies is worth considering: One study found that people who wear reusable contact lenses are about four times more at risk of developing Acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare eye infection that can increase your risk of vision loss or blindness, compared with folks who use daily contacts. 

Other habits you should break with your contact lenses include sleeping, showering or swimming with them on. Dr. Mackenzie Sward, a board-certified ophthalmologist, warns, “Sleeping in your contact lenses and failing to properly clean your lenses can significantly increase the risk of a corneal ulcer caused by a bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection.” As if that wasn’t concerning enough, vision loss from contact lens-related complications may be severe and permanent.

Hand holding up sunglasses with pink lenses against a blue sky.

<!----> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Kinga Krzeminska/Getty Images</span>

Not wearing sunglasses

You know that your skin needs sunscreen to protect it from harmful UV rays, and believe it or not, your eyes need to be shielded as well. Sward recommends wearing proper UV protection when outdoors or in the car, even if it’s overcast. “That is because harmful UVA and UVB rays in the atmosphere can increase the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, skin cancer of the eyelid, and other diseases of the eye,” she explains. To protect your eyes, Sward advises opting for sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection every time you step outside. 

“Cumulative UV exposure and damage only increases the lifetime incidence of macular degeneration, cataracts, pterygium and skin cancer,” she explains. These conditions may be permanent or require surgical treatment to correct. People in occupations with more outdoor work, such as construction or landscaping, are at higher risk of certain conditions related to UV damage, so they should be more mindful of protecting themselves.

Not wearing protective eyewear

You should also be wearing protective eyewear when playing sports or doing work that involves the risk of an eye injury. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “estimates that about 2,000 people per day sustain work-related eye injuries, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that there are 30,000 sports related eye injuries every year in the United States,” said Sward. Many of these injuries are preventable and usually involve foreign objects that get stuck in the eye, like dust, wood, metal or plant debris. Other injuries you can sustain from lack of eye protection include blunt or direct trauma from falls or from larger objects such as tools that hit the face. 

Smoking

Besides the known multiple health risks smoking can lead to, it can also harm your eyes. Smoking cigarettes doubles the risk of macular degeneration, which can cause you to lose vision in the part of your eye known as the macula. Smoking also harms your retina and increases your chances of cataracts, which cloud your eye’s lenses and can also lead to loss of vision. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, smokers are about three times more likely to develop cataracts and up to four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration compared with nonsmokers. So if you’re a smoker, it would be in your best interest to kick the habit.

Spending too much time on screens

We can all admit we could limit our time on our smartphones, laptops and tablets. Spending fewer hours with these items would also benefit our eyesight. Digital eye strain or Computer Vision Syndrome, is a condition that occurs when you’ve been staring at a computer or phone screen for too long. It can cause eye dryness, blurry vision, headaches, backaches and other symptoms of discomfort. 

Sward recommends taking frequent breaks from screens to let your eyes relax and getting fitted for a pair of prescription lenses that are specifically made for use at the computer. “It is important to see an eye care professional regularly to ensure you are wearing the appropriate eyeglass correction and [to] screen for eye conditions that may otherwise not have any symptoms,” she said.

Source