Many young people take their visual health for granted, assuming that as long as there are no obvious signs of vision problems, their eyes must be in good shape. While it’s true that many common eye conditions develop later in life, you’re never too young to prioritize your visual health, which is why having regular checkups with an optometrist is a must.
Here are some tips to help you maintain good eye health and vision:
Your Eyes and Digital Devices
Today, many school materials are digitized, which means young people often spend hours a day looking at a screen. It’s the same case with desk jobs, which involve computer work throughout most of the day. Did you know that excessive exposure to digital devices can result in digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome (CVS)?
CVS is often characterized by headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and neck and shoulder pain. The common causes of this condition include poor sitting posture, poor lighting and glare from screens. Uncorrected vision problems, such as farsightedness and astigmatism, can also increase your risk of developing this condition. This is why regular visits with your optometrist are important.
Fortunately, the symptoms that come with CVS are only temporary and often go away once you stop using your devices. Sometimes, non-eyeglass wearers can benefit from glasses specifically made for computer use. For those who wear eyeglasses, special tints or coatings can help alleviate CVS symptoms.
It’s also beneficial to take regular breaks from your computer. Try practicing the 20-20-20 rule: after 20 minutes of screen time, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 minutes. To avoid dry eye from prolonged computer use, make it a habit to blink frequently. This will help keep your eyes lubricated.
Proper Contact Lens Wear
Good hygiene is essential in preventing eye infections due to contact lens wear. Before handling your contacts, wash your hands with soap and water and dry them with a clean cloth. Always remove your contact lenses before going to bed. You shouldn’t wear your contacts when showering, swimming or near any body of water. Swimming with contacts can cause eye infections, irritation and other conditions that can result in vision loss.
Only use fresh contact lens solution when cleaning your lenses. Do not mix new solution with old or used solution. Rub and rinse your contacts with fresh solution before placing them back in their case. Replace your contact lens case as recommended by your eye specialist.
You should also give your eyes a break from contact lens wear. The cornea won’t get sufficient oxygen when it’s covered with your contacts all day. Without enough oxygen, the cornea begins growing new blood vessels to make up for the lack of air. Over-wearing contact lenses can cause eye inflammation and deposits in the cornea as well as increase the risk of infection.
Good Hygiene Is Key
Sharing your makeup or borrowing makeup from others can increase your risk of eye infections like pink eye or conjunctivitis. Always use your own makeup and throw it away once it reaches the expiration date. Make sure your hands, face and eyelids are very clean before putting on makeup. Also, don’t forget to clean your makeup brushes and sponges.
Avoid using products containing untested or harsh chemicals. When trying out makeup in stores, only use fresh applicators and samples that haven’t been used by multiple people. Your best bet is to completely avoid store samples. If you tend to get allergic reactions easily, try one new product at a time. Don’t start using a new product until you’re sure the current one didn’t cause a reaction. If an eye makeup causes infection, discontinue it and have your eyes checked by a specialist. Don’t use eye makeup until the infection is gone.
Never share towels or medicated eye drops with anyone. Proper handwashing and hygiene are key to avoiding common eye infections. These habits also help prevent blepharitis, which is often characterized by inflamed, itchy and red eyelids. The condition tends to recur, making good eyelid hygiene essential.
You should never go to bed without removing your makeup. Doing so can cause eye irritation and redness. Use warm compresses, makeup remover wipes or natural oils to remove your makeup. Finish off with a cool compress to reduce puffiness.
Those who have recently had eye surgery shouldn’t wear eye makeup unless your eye doctor says it’s safe to do so. Once you’re allowed to use makeup again, purchase new products to minimize the risk of infection.
Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Eyes
Incorporate foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as green leafy vegetables and fish, into your diet. Fatty fish like salmon have omega-3 fatty acids that are essential to the health of the macula, which is responsible for central vision.
If you’re a smoker, work on quitting. Insufficient antioxidant intake, alcohol consumption and smoking can create free-radical reactions, which are harmful to the macula. Eating excessively fat foods can also cause fat deposits that can restrict blood flow in the arteries. Your eyes are sensitive to this because they have very small blood vessels.
Exercising can improve oxygen levels to the eyes and remove toxins as it improves blood circulation. Getting enough sleep will not only make you look and feel great, but it can also help you perform better at work or school and contribute to good eye health.
Keep in mind that the choices you make as a young adult can influence your risk of developing eye disease later in life. When going outdoors, wear sunglasses with ultraviolet radiation-blocking lenses. Doing so can reduce your chance of developing macular degeneration, cataracts and certain eye cancers. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, which can cause permanent vision loss.
If you participate in sports, avoid eye injuries by wearing proper sports eyewear. Approximately 30,000 people in the U.S. visit emergency rooms yearly due to sports-eye related injuries. Many of these incidents could have been avoided by wearing proper protective eye gear.
Get Regular Eye Exams
Vision screenings are different from comprehensive eye exams. In vision screenings, you’re asked to identify tiers of letters that are 20 feet away to determine if you need corrective lenses or medical treatment.
Comprehensive eye exams are done by optometrists or ophthalmologists. They usually include a vision screening as well as a series of tests to assess your eye health. Your eye doctor will check each of your eyes for indications of serious eye conditions, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and detached retina.
Getting comprehensive eye exams regularly, regardless of one’s age, helps with the early detection and treatment of serious eye diseases. People tend to experience more vision issues as they get older, and some of the most serious eye diseases are asymptomatic in the early stages. Protect your eyes and maintain good vision by starting this habit early.