Eye-care mistakes that you should avoid making
There are daily ocular habits that can slowly ruin eye health. Here’s what you should avoid according to ophthalmologists.
Not replacing your lenses as recommended
If you wear daily-use lenses, replace them daily. If they’re monthly, switch monthly. “I’m always surprised by how many people say they only switch to new lenses when their old pair starts bothering them,” says Steinemann. “Even if you’re fastidious about disinfecting solution, the lenses act like a magnet for germs and dirt,” he explains. Over time, your contacts will become coated with germs from your hands and your contacts case, and if you keep wearing them, those bugs will transfer to your eye.
Rubbing your eyes
If you regularly rub your eyes, there’s reason to break the habit, says chief of cornea services at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, Christopher Rapuano, M.D. “Chronically wiping or rubbing your eyes increases your chances of keratoconus, which is when the cornea becomes thin and pointy, distorting your vision,” he explains. Keep your hands away from your face, and use artificial tears or just tap water to flush out irritants.
Using anti-redness eye drops
Eye drops work by constricting blood vessels in the eye to reduce the appearance of redness. It doesn’t hurt but with daily use, your eyes essentially become addicted to the drops, says Rapuano. You’ll start to need more and the effects will last for less time. And while the rebound redness itself isn’t necessarily harmful, it may distract from whatever was triggering the irritation to begin with. If an infection was the culprit, delaying treatment in favour of drops can be dangerous.
Showering in your contact lenses
All water—from the faucet, the pool, the rain—has the potential to contain acanthamoeba, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology clinical spokesperson, Thomas Steinemann, M.D. If this amoeba gets on your lenses, it can transfer to your eye where it can eat away at your cornea, leading to blindness. If you leave your lenses in to shower, disinfect them or toss them, and just use a new pair.
Sleeping in your contact lenses
“Sleeping in contact lenses increases your risk of infection between five and 10 times,” says Steinemann. When you sleep in your lenses, any germs that do find their way onto your lenses are held against your eye for longer, making them more likely to cause problems. The decreased airflow that comes with long-term contact wear also reduces the eye’s ability to fight infection, adds Steinemann.
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