Photograph by Marie Baersch
It’s Eye Awareness Month and, trust us, you need to be aware of these random daily habits that can seriously mess with your eyes!
Meriek van den Berg, an optometrist at Mellins i-Style, gave us the low-down on some surprisingly common habits we’re probably all guilty of that put your eyesight at risk:
1. Playing risky sports without protection
Racket sports are usually played at a high speed and a momentary lack of judgment or concentration can easily result in a lifetime of blindness. The high velocity at which the ball travels can inflict major damage to the eye. Typical injuries can include a blowout fracture to the eye socket or soft tissue damage to the eye itself. There is a real risk of permanent damage, so play it safe!
2. Wearing your contact lenses for too long
Your contact lenses act like a barrier and will deprive your eyes of much needed oxygen if worn for long periods of time. It’s not good for your eye health and can cause complications such as abnormal vessel growth, ulcers and infections. Always have a pair of back-up specs on hand to give your eyes a break and heed your optometrist’s advice on how to minimise risk.
Read More: Using Your Phone In Bed Can Cause Blindness!
3. Rubbing your eyes
Some people tend to rub their eyes when they’re tired or when their eyes are itchy. Rubbing your peepers with dirty hands can easily cause eye infections and form dark circles around the eyes #BeautyDisaster. The long-term side effects could include thinning of the cornea and, in some cases, it can lead to a condition called keratoconus.
Read More: Yikes! 6 Everyday Things That Could Hamper Your Health
4. Dissing the shades
The sun emits different types of electromagnetic radiation, most of which are visible (HEV) light, UV rays and infrared rays. While UV rays make up only a very small portion of the sun’s rays, they are the main cause of the sun’s damaging effects on the eyes. UV rays are an overload of energy that travels through an empty space, creating an imbalance in the chemical structure of the body’s molecules, causing cell damage and deformities. As UV rays travel with sunlight, the rays can pierce through the thin layer of skin on the eyelids when the eyes are closed or partially closed, making it possible for the rays to reach the eye.
Tinted sunglasses may also help to darken glare from the sun. Sharp light, however, can still obscure your vision and the lenses don’t necessarily protect the eyes from harmful radiation. The best solutions for protecting your eyes against damaging rays are polarised lenses that can block 100 percent UV radiation and absorb other detrimental light. The transparent lens and cornea help to protect the eyes by filtering the UV rays, but if direct light continuously reaches the eyes over long periods of time, this can lead to serious eye problems, including cataracts, eyelid cancers, intraocular melanoma, macular degeneration, harmful growths on the surface of the eye, keratitis (sunburn of the cornea) and photokeratitis.
5. Using the same mascara for too long
Everyone has some sort of bacteria on their eyelashes. By regularly applying the same mascara on your lashes, the bacteria contaminates the brush. Bacteria love the moist environment of your mascara tube and, by keeping the same mascara for too long, you put yourself at risk for eye infections.
How to avoid this:
1. Replace your mascara every 3-4 months.
2. Don’t share your mascara with anyone else – the risk of viral infections and pink eye increase when sharing mascara.
3. If you had an eye infection, make sure to get yourself a new tube of mascara and always dispose of the old make-up.
Read More: How To Keep Your Mascara Clean
6. Avoiding the eye doc – even when something feels wrong
Normal day-to-day tasks such as driving and climbing stairs can become more challenging if you can’t see clearly. A 2014 JAMA Ophthalmology study estimated a 31 percent increased risk of mortality among the 2 520 participants who had difficulty performing basic tasks due to low vision. Irregular eye examinations can also mean serious health problems. Optometrists are often the first medical professionals to detect early signs of systemic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Anxiety and depression aren’t strangers to people with eye problems. According to a 2014 report from the US National Library of Medicine, people with low vision are often more stressed, frustrated, dissatisfied and tend to have a lower quality of life than people with 20/20 vision. So, um, get to that eye doc!
7. Wearing your contacts in water
With eye infections, it’s better to prevent than to cure. Acanthamoeba is a single cell organism that is commonly found in water sources like tap water, hot tubs, swimming pools and showers. This micro-organism can cause one of the most dangerous sight-threatening eye infections. It lives in water and as soon as it comes in contact with the contact lens it attaches to it. In severe cases it could cause such damage to the eye that a corneal transplant would be required. Water should be avoided near your contact lenses at all times. Never rinse your contact lenses in normal tap water and stay away from moist places like jacuzzis, swimming pools etc. when wearing contact lenses.