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When we think about staying healthy and fit, we sometimes forget that our eyes are an important part of this. The following is an excerpted article from Health.com (D. Chandri OD) with some insights to keeping our eyes healthy.
♦ Touching and rubbing your eyes – Whether you wear contacts or not, you’re asking for trouble by unnecessary poking and rubbing your eyes. Sometimes your eyes itch and you feel you have to rub, but it’s best to keep the lid closed and only touch the outside of the eye. Rubbing too hard can also lead to broken blood vessels and inflammation.
Another reason to keep your hands off? Your eyes are protected by mucous membranes—moist tissue that can easily collect dirt and germs—so they’re a great place for bacteria to grow. If you shake someone’s hand and then you rub your eyes, you’re transmitting those germs and there’s a good chance you can catch whatever cold he’s got.
♦ Annual eye exams – Vision changes aren’t even the most important reason you should still see an eye doc every year. It’s about getting your overall eye health checked out: There are no pain receptors behind the eye, so if you have a broken blood vessel or a tumor back there, you would otherwise not know it until it starts to interfere with your vision, or worse.
♦ Staring at devices all day (and night) – Electronic screens, like those on our computers, tablets, and smartphones, emit blue light, which some eye doctors believe to be as harmful as the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Plus, focusing on anything for hours on end can cause eye strain and headaches. Remember the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
♦ Applying eyeliner to your waterline – Even though makeup artists often swear by putting liner on the inside of your lower lashes, it’s actually quite risky. When you put liner inside your eye, you’re mixing it with your tears. If you’re wearing contacts, your lenses then get coated in tiny makeup particles, which can deprive your eyes of oxygen. And even if you’re not wearing contacts, those makeup particles can also be carrying germs that can cause infection.
Liquid liners are especially dangerous since the applicator tip sits in a tube that can harbor bacteria. Soft pencils are safer since they are continuously being worn down and a new “tip” is exposed, but she still recommends applying them outside the eye only.
♦ Sleeping in your makeup – Hitting the sack without washing your face can do more than leave mascara stains on your pillow; it can also clog the glands around your peepers and lead to irritated skin, pimples, and even styes—painful, raised bumps that can appear on or around the eyelids.
False lashes are a no-no too. If you’re sleeping in them and rubbing them, that glue can get into your cornea and lead to major inflammation.
♦ Using expired solution, lenses, or drops – Contact lens solutions all have an expiration date that should be followed. These solutions have cleansers that kill bacteria on your lenses, so you want to make sure all of those ingredients are still doing their job.
The same thing goes for the lenses themselves, which sit in a sterile solution that can break down over time. Artificial tears and prescription eye drops also have expiration dates that you should pay close attention to, as well. And definitely don’t rinse your contact case or store contacts in any liquid that’s not sterile, like tap or distilled water; both have been associated with Acanthamoeba keratitis, a drug-resistant corneal infection.
♦ Overuse of OTC redness-reducing drops – The kinds you buy in the drugstore contain vasoconstrictors, which shrink blood vessels and temporarily make your eyes appear less red. But they also contain preservatives and other chemicals that can make your problem even worse in the long run, and it’s only a matter of time before you experience a rebound effect.
If your eyes are constantly red or irritated, it’s important to see an eye doctor who can get to the root of your problem. He or she can recommend an over-the-counter product (like a moisturizing “artificial tears” drop) or suggest other forms of treatment.
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