1. Staring at your smartphone
Staring at your smartphone or computer screen or TV for hours on end is not good for your eye health, says research by the University of Toledo, published in Scientific Reports.
That’s because these screens emit blue light which is absorbed by vital cells in the eye’s retina triggering toxic chemicals, which can eventually kill the photoreceptors we need for vision. And the older you get the more vulnerable you are.
The study’s lead researcher Dr Ajith Karunarathne, an assistant professor in the UT department of chemistry and biochemistry says we shouldn’t be checking phones and tablets in the dark because this can dilate the pupils making them more vulnerable to damage.
2. Your daily swimming
Swimming is hugely beneficial for your cardiovascular system but if you’re not wearing goggles, your eyes might be suffering, especially if you’re a contact lens wearer and you open your eyes underwater, explains O’Brien.
‘The water in pools, rivers and the sea, or even the shower can leave your eyes vulnerable to bacterial infection,’ warns O’ Brien.
‘The microorganism acanthamoeba lives in water and can cause serious damage if it gets into your eye’.
If you really must wear your lenses in the pool stick to daily disposables along with waterproof swimming goggles, or better still invest in a pair of prescription goggles which will help you see clearly without water coming in direct contact with your eyes.
3. Forgetting to wear sunglasses
You might you think your sunnies are no longer needed now that the dark nights are closing in. Not so says O’Brien. UV is still an issue on overcast winter days.
‘Although the UV count is typically higher on sunnier days, it is important to bear in mind that up to 80% of UV radiation can penetrate cloud, meaning that forgetting to wear sunglasses on an overcast day can still damage your eyes,’ says O’Brien.
‘That means it’s just as good an idea to pop on a pair of shades on a sunny December morning as it is on a hot July afternoon.’
4. Over-using eye drops
While it’s tempting to reach for the eye drops rather than put up with looking like a pink-eyed bunny, you can have too much of a good thing, say experts, as plenty of eye drops can lead to a rebound effect.
Rebound redness results because the blood vessels in the eye dilate as the effects of the medication in the drops wears off, creating a vicious circle. What should we do instead? ‘Try to pinpoint the cause and deal with it, ‘ says O’Brien.
If, for example, your eyes are dry due to cold winter weather and central heating, invest in a humidifier and try not to sit too close to a radiator.
Rehydrate by drinking lots of water and eat plenty of foods rich in A, C and E vitamins and omega-3 fats, like salmon. And when the wind starts whistling, don your sunglasses to protect your eyes from the biting cold.
5. Your fan
Leaving a fan running all night can increase irritation and dry eyes for contact lens wearers. Why? Because fans blow allergens like dust or pollen towards your eyes as you sleep, so that when you insert your lenses in the morning these deposits cause irritation and discomfort.
The fix? Thoroughly dust bedroom surfaces, including the fan blades and keep a bottle of contact lens solution handy to cleanse your lenses to remove any impurities.
Consider setting a timer on your fan, so it switches off shortly after you doze off and wear a sleep mask, so your eyes are protected.
Thanks for reading.