Whether it’s skipping the gym one night or ordering pizza instead of making a healthy dinner, we all occasionally take short-cuts with our health, and while conveniently forgetting to do the various little chores that we all know should be a part of our daily routine once in a while may be no big deal, if it happens too often it can become a bad habit. This pattern can be particularly problematic when it comes to caring for your eyes, as certain bad habits can potentially have serious consequences for your long term eye health. Here are some of the bad habits that people should avoid if they want to keep their vision clear and their eyes healthy and ultimately save money.
Forgetting Your Sunglasses
Most people are aware that exposure to harmful ultraviolet light can damage and prematurely age the skin, but fewer know that it can have similar effects on the eyes. Moreover, since ultraviolet light easily passes through cloud cover even if normal, visual light is blocked, your eyes may potentially be at risk even on dim, overcast days. In the short term, UV exposure can lead to photokeratitis, a condition similar to sunburn on the front surface of the eye that causes a dry, scratchy feeling. More seriously, long term exposure to ultraviolet light may eventually lead to conditions that can impair the vision permanently, like macular degeneration and cataracts. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends wearing sunglasses that block out wavelengths up to 400 nanometers (nm), which effectively reflects 99-100 % of UV-A and UV-B light, any time you are outside for an extended period of time.
Neglecting Your Contact Lens Care
Contact lenses are precision medical devices that need regular care and maintenance in order to work at peak effectiveness, and failure to properly clean and store your lenses can potentially lead to a serious eye infection that could cause permanent visual impairment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one million Americans visit the eye doctor each year with eye infections related to wearing contacts. Always use the recommended cleaning solution as directed, not tap water or saliva, to disinfect your lenses and replace the storage case regularly. Avoid sleeping in your lenses or wearing them for longer than is your doctor recommends, and absolutely do not share your lenses with another person, as doing so could put you at serious risk for infection.
Skipping Your Regularly Scheduled Eye Exam
Coming in to get your eyes checked can be an inconvenience that is easy to ignore, but undergoing regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams is an absolutely vital part of maintaining vision health. Your eyes continue to grow and change throughout your life, and it is common for regular vision prescriptions to fluctuate over the years. More importantly, many serious conditions that can affect eyesight, like cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, tend to be progressive, so regular checks are the best way to catch them in the early stages, before symptoms manifest, permanent damage occurs, or extensive surgery is required. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that all men and women undergo a complete comprehensive eye exam at least once between the ages of 20 and 29, at least twice between the ages of 30 and 39, and a baseline eye disease screening at age 40, the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur.
Taking a few simple precautions, and avoiding a few bad habits, can often make all the difference when it comes to maintaining your eyesight. If you have questions about the health of your eyes, or would like to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons to make an appointment with Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more information on how to keep your vision clear.