1. PARENTHOOD CAN MAKE YOUR EYES HURT
But don’t worry; the issues are easy to troubleshoot.
Your vision is worsening.
It’s inevitable. In your late 30s or early 40s, your eyes’ lenses get stiffer, which makes it harder for them to change shape quickly when you go from looking at something far away to something up close. This strain throughout the day can make your eyes feel sore or tired. THE FIX: See your ophthalmologist once a year. “An eye doctor can dilate your eyes to check if they’re straining and if you might benefit from a prescription for computer glasses,” Dr. Massarogiordano advises. Some cheapo reading glasses can also help. Choose a pair with the lowest correction.
Your screen time is off the charts.
Hunching over a computer isn’t just bad for your back. “You blink less when you stare at a screen, and blinking lubricates your eyes,” says Alice Lorch, M.D., a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, in Boston. Nearly 16 million Americans have dry eye, according to the National Eye Institute. It’s not just uncomfortable; dryness ups your risk of infection and can make tasks like driving harder. Plus, people with dry eye report lower productivity than those with lesser symptoms, said a study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. THE FIX: Step away from your work (or phone) for ten minutes every hour, Dr. Lorch says. To lubricate your eyes, all of our experts suggest using preservativefree drops as many times as you need to throughout the day. (Preservatives can damage cells and make the problem worse over time.) Dr. Massaro-giordano also says your computer should be no
higher than eye level. “Looking up opens the lid and exposes more of the eyeball to the environment, causing dryness.”
Another reason to get more rest: “There’s less fluid evaporation when your eyelids are closed,” Dr. Massaro-giordano explains, which is why dry eye tends to be worse when you skimp on sleep.
THE FIX: Keep those eye drops on your nightstand so you can use them during the night if you wake up, Dr. Massarogiordano says. And if you wear contacts, always take them out before bed. Lenses can interfere with the way tears are distributed across the cornea and can limit the eye’s access to oxygen, both of which make dry eye worse, Dr. Lorch says. You could also develop an infection from wearing them for too long.
Your baby’s teeny (but sharp!) nails can do damage.
Baby-induced eye injuries are more common than you think, Dr. Massarogiordano says, and those sweet little hands pack some power. “Fingernails are like little knives,” she says. “They can injure the cornea.” If a scratch doesn’t heal correctly, it can leave long-term pain at the scene of the crime. THE FIX: Apply cold preservative-free drops immediately, and keep track of your symptoms. “If the lid swells or you become more sensitive to light, see an ophthalmologist,” Dr. Massaro-giordano says, “especially if things don’t get better within a day.” Oh, and don’t forget to trim those claws.
You could develop an allergy.
Itchy eyes might not be from pollen floating in the air but from new soap, laundry detergent, or eye makeup. “Your eyes might look okay from the outside, but a doctor could see little bumps under the lids from a low-level allergy caused by any of these products,” Dr. Lorch says. THE FIX: Remove your makeup every single night. Dr. Lorch says even using baby wash on your face and eyes works wonders. Still irritated? Take a break from any suspected allergens for two weeks, and then slowly reintroduce each one back into your routine until you’ve identified the cause.