Vision Health

The Good Habits That Can Help Your Eyes

Dr. Mirwat Sami, a Houston board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery, says that it is essential to have a yearly eye exam to protect your vision, especially as you get older. But it’s also crucial to avoid some bad habits that could affect your vision. Here, she shares how to protect your eyes:

Don’t Smoke

With every cigarette, you inhale at least 7,000 kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous for your health in dozens of areas, including your eyes. Smoking is also considered a risk factor for macular degeneration and, like any toxin, has a cumulative effect on our health over years.

Wear Sunglasses

Protecting your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation can help prevent a number of conditions ranging from eyelid skin cancer, cataracts, pterygium and macular degeneration. To prevent these conditions from causing permanent damage, it is imperative to wear sunglasses and get periodic eye exams to identify early damaging effects.

 Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes

As tempting as it may be, it’s a big no-no. “Rubbing them too hard can break the blood vessels under the eyelids.” Sami says. It also causes the skin, muscles and ligaments of the eyelids to become more “lax” and appear aged, she adds. “So to soothe irritated eyes, try a cold compress instead.” Eyes can be irritated due to a number of conditions such as allergies, dry eyes, computer vision syndrome and lax eyelid muscles. If the irritation persists, see an eye doctor.

Don’t Overuse Eyedrops

While they temporarily alleviate dry eyes, using them too often could actually irritate your eyes over time. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) warns that nonprescription eye drops don’t actually improve the health of your eye; they just make your eyes appear less red. They recommend using eye drops for only a short period of time. Lubricating eye drops and artificial tears can be very helpful in soothing dry and irritated eyes but overuse is not recommended as these drops can contain preservatives that can be harmful to the cornea when used in excess.

Also, drops that claim to “get the red out” contain vasoconstrictors that can be harmful in two ways: firstly by masking the redness, they deter people from seeking medical attention in a timely fashion for potentially vision-threatening conditions such as infections. Secondly, the vasoconstrictors shrink blood vessels, making the eyes appear less red but when the effect wears off the vessel have a “rebound” effect where they appear redder and more dilated than before. This makes people use the drops again and starts off a vicious cycle of overuse.

Don’t Watch Too Much TV at Night

In fact, looking at any type of screen right before bed in the dark, including your cell phone, e-reader, television, and computer, is bad for you. The levels of light are changing rapidly, so your eyes have to work hard to process the changes, which can lead to eyestrain, pain,  headaches, dry eyes, and redness.

Look Away from The Computer

Some people have a habit of staring at their computer screens for a long time without blinking even once. This can result in dry eyes and computer vision syndrome. It is best to take regular breaks, use artificial tears for lubrication and be aware of the potential reasons for eye irritation.

Never Sleep with Your Contacts In

This is a complete no-no. This bad habit can result in potentially blinding eye infection. At times, you may feel too lazy to remove your contact lenses. But, this laziness can place your eyes in serious danger.

Keep Your Contact Lenses Clean

Always wash your hands with soap and water before touching contact lenses. Use cleaning products recommended for contact lens use. Never use homemade solutions as these carry many germs and do not clean lenses properly. Never swim with contact lenses; instead, invest in a pair of prescription swimming goggles if necessary.

Use Safety Goggles

According to the AAO, almost 45% of eye injuries happen at home. And the most common risks are being exposed to chemicals in cleaning products (household products cause 125,000 injuries each year), hot grease and oil splatters during cooking, home improvement projects involving, mowing the lawn, and using hot styling tools near the eyes. So yes, you may look silly wearing those safety goggles, but it’s a really good  idea when working on a home improvement project.

Dr. Mirwat Sami is one of a handful of physicians across the country uniquely qualified to treat both medical and cosmetic problems of the face around the eyes. For more about Dr. Sami’s work, click here.




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