Habits That Harm Your Eyes
Smoking: Research shows that smokers have a significantly greater risk of sight loss than non-smokers. Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke interfere with the production of tears. Smoking causes oxidative stress and damages your retina. Tobacco also reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your macula. This can lead to an increased risk of many eye conditions including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Smokers are also at greater risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. If women smoke during pregnancy they are more likely to give birth prematurely, putting the babies at higher risk for retinopathy of prematurity. Tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, is an irritant that worsens dry eyes. The more you smoke, the higher your risk. But, the good news is that, after you quit smoking, your risks for some eye ailments come down significantly.
Rubbing or touching your eyes often: Very rarely do wash our hands before having to rub our eyes due to an upturned lash or an irritant. Germs on our fingers are transferred to the eyes. The more you rub your eyes, the more are the chances of minor tears in the tissue. They can break and damage capillaries, and you might end up with visible veins (which can make you look older) or with dark spots around the eye.
Sleeping with your lenses in: Leaving your contact lenses in overnight can lead to redness in the eyes, eye strain or pain. There is also a possibility of the lens tightening while on the eye, which can result in tiny rips or tears on your cornea. This may increase your risk of an eye infection, inflammation or abrasions. (See more in Care For Your Contacts)
Ignoring the need for glasses: After the age of 40 you have trouble reading and need to hold magazines, books etc farther away from your face in order to read them. This means you have presbyopia but you are ignoring it, postponing the visit to the eye doctor, causing your blurry vision. Other than this possibility, there are refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism (a problem with how the eye focuses light), and need to be addressed but you aren’t giving this a serious thought.
Bad diet: Your diet has a lot to do with your vision. Your eyes need proper nourishment, which comes from the foods you eat. Include leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables, and omega-3s—the healthy fatty acids that you can get from fish. Your eyes require the main nutrients called lutein and zeaxanthin, which are commonly found in vegetables. They are important disease-fighting antioxidants for the eyes and the whole body.
Ignoring health issues: You have high blood sugar or high blood pressure and aren’t taking care of the problem. High blood sugar can cause your vision to blur. If you suspect you might have high blood sugar, get checked right away. You’re at risk for type 2 diabetes if you are overweight or have a family history of the disorder. Other symptoms include frequent urination and excessive thirst. Controlling your blood sugar can prevent diabetic retinopathy. High blood pressure can also be dangerous to the eyes. It can cause a mini stroke of the eye called vein occlusion and will need a treatment and clot-busting medication. To protect against vein occlusion, if you have high blood pressure, get regular eye exams.
Long hours in direct sunlight: A 2014 study, led by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and which appears in the ‘Journal of Biological Chemistry’, suggests that UV light can damage lens proteins in a distinct way that is typically seen in cataract and in cells damaged by oxidative stress. In other words, UV light can trigger harmful oxidative reactions in the lens.
Skipping eye tests: If you think that ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ applies to your eye health too, you might want to rethink. Sometimes, symptoms reveal themselves in different ways. Don’t wait till you have a problem. Make time for regular visits to an eye doctor, especially as you get older.
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