Eye Don't Believe It! The Unexpected Ways Most Of Us Are Damaging Our Eyes

We all do our best to stay healthy. We watch our diet like hawks. We have become masters of portion control and know how to get all those great micro and macro nutrients on the plate in ways that are not only beneficial for your whole family’s health but delicious and accessible for even the fussiest eaters at the table. We’re a dab hand at meal prep and planning and know how to squeeze every penny of our budget to ensure that there’s always something wholesome and easy to prepare in the fridge so that we have no excuses for falling into the open arms of the nearest pizza joint. We take our vitamin supplements to fill in those blind spots that are present in even the most rigorous of diets, and we get plenty of exercise to ensure that our tickers are healthy and robust while our bodies are lean and ageless. We’re also sure to get plenty of sleep and fresh air and lead an active and varied lifestyle.

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But as rigorous as we may be in our efforts to stay healthy, even the most diligent among us have our blind spots (literally in some cases). When it comes to our eye health, most of us probably don’t know just how much we can invite ocular disease and degeneration through our lifestyle choices. Here we’ll look at some commonly held bad habits, how they can have a detrimental effect on our vision in the short or long term and what you can do to mitigate the damage.

At work
Whatever you do to put food on the table, there’s a pretty good chance you come into regular contact with something which can be damaging to your eyes. Whether you spend your day at a computer, work with heavy machinery or handle hazardous chemicals you’ve likely been given rigorous training on how to protect your eye health while going about your daily duties.

Unfortunately, as we become more experienced and proficient, we can also become disproportionately blase about the risks we face. We can leave our protective goggles hanging from our necks on the construction site because they look stupid or spend 8-12 hours a day with our eyes glued to a screen.

Aside from the obvious like avoiding rubbing your eyes (whether you’ve just washed your hands or not), and wearing protective eye glasses or goggles if you’ve been told to use them, there are lots of little things you can do to protect your eyes at work. Keep a bottle of eye drops at your desk to keep your eyes moisturized and prevent the incurable dry eye syndrome and make sure you give your eyes a short break every hour you spend looking at the screen. You should get up and go for a short walk every hour too, all that sitting isn’t doing you any good either!

At home
Believe it or not, as hazardous as your work environment may be to your eye health, even the cosy confines of your home do not insulate you entirely from issues that can damage your eye health. Of course, your relationship with the screen doesn’t end at work and while an evening of Netflix or DVDs with a bottle of wine and some good food may be the perfect antidote to a stressful day, it’s important not to increase our risk of eye strain. Ensure that there is sufficient ambient light when watching TV and don’t be afraid to take screen breaks. Dividing your attention between your TV, your phone and your tablet doesn’t count either.

Attention smokers! Your bad habit also increases your risk of cataracts while also damaging the optic nerve, leading to macular degeneration.

Even little things like wearing too much eye makeup can cause infection by clogging the glands and exposing your eyes to allergenic compounds and bacteria. Mascara is the prime offender here. Let’s not forget that the function of your eyelashes is to keep bacteria out of your eyes. Thus, your lashes themselves are often laced with bacteria that can congregate on your mascara brush and breed in those little tubes of mascara. To be on the safe side, you should throw mascara tubes away after 3 months.

Finally, you should not rub your eyes at home any more than you should at work. Simply blinking or simply giving them a rinse under the tap will be more than enough to address whatever’s causing your eyes to feel itchy or tired.

At the dining table
Many of us accept degenerative eye conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration as an inevitability that comes with old age. Nothing could be further from the truth, and just a little research into the right foods can ensure great eye health well into old age. Load your plate with the following and your eyes will be healthy and functional while your peers find themselves squinting more and more.
  • Nuts, beans and pulses (which are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids)
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Green leafy vegetables like collard greens, kale and spinach
Image by PxHere

On the street
Even when we walk down the street, we unknowingly encounter hazards which can seriously (and in some cases irreparably) damage our eye health. On sunny days, don’t leave your sunglasses at home. Not only do they make you look cool and stop your eyes from getting tired and sore, they also protect your delicate corneas from harmful UVA and UVB rays which are highly carcinogenic. Most of us assume that so long as we don’t look directly at the sun that we’ll be okay, little knowing that sunlight glaring at us from reflective surfaces can be every bit as harmful. This can cause painful sun blindness which is essentially giving your corneas sunburn. On a long term basis this can even increase your risk of cataracts and even skin cancer on the delicate skin of your eyelids.

At the gym
Even when we’re doing our best to stay healthy we can still put our eye health at risk when at the gym or playing sports. Of course sports like tennis and racquetball can result in eye injury which can be mitigated by wearing appropriate polycarbonate eyewear but even pushing weights poses a risk to your eye health. It’s important to control your breathing when pumping iron as when we exert effort in heavy lifting it increases intraocular pressure which can damage our eyesight, especially if we hold our breath.

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