Caring for your eyes is essential in preventing or minimising the chance of a variety of different eye diseases including cataracts, and developed color blindness. Congenital color blindness cannot be mended with good eye care, however the risk of developing color blindness later in life can be greatly minimised if you protect your eyes at all times. There are many simple choices you can make every day to protect your eyes – and it is all common sense! For example, head trauma can cause color blindness, so wear a helmet when riding a bike, or playing hard contact sport. Wear the correct eye protection when working with machinery, and practice caution when handling chemicals.
Eye care isn’t just for preventing color blindness, it can help prevent many vision impairments, whether you have normal eyes or not – there are some things laser eye surgery just can’t fix! Important ways to care for your eyes include limiting UV exposure, meeting the recommended daily intake for Vitamin A, attentiveness to the signs of a developing vision problem, and more.
Remember, if you are experiencing a loss of visual quality or any form of discomfort to your eyes – have it checked out by a doctor and/or optometrist as soon as possible. Addressed below are some of the common causes, and simple solutions for many common risks to your eyes.
Eye Care & UV Rays
Exposure to UV rays is commonly associated with causing skin cancer, however even if you ‘don’t tan’ or slip slop slap, you are still very much at risk of over exposing your eyes to UV rays. Excessive exposure to UV light causes long term damage to the inner structure of your eye, leading to diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
The best thing you can do is wear a good pair of sunglasses, most good sunglasses will cut incoming light down 95% and cut UV light dramatically more-so. Even if you wear corrective glasses for short sightedness or long sightedness full time, you can get prescription lenses or clip-ons to ensure that you are not exposing yourself to any further eye conditions. So when you’re out in the sun, wear your sunglasses!
Eye Care & Foreign Objects
This is a matter of simple common sense. If you’re playing sports like squash, tennis, and so on, imagine how much damage a hit to the eye could cause to your vision. The eye socket is specifically designed to protect you from the full force of even a tennis ball sized object, however not everyone is the same, and this is by no means a guarantee of safety! It only takes one accident to do permanent and serious damage to your vision, so think about the sorts of protective eye-wear that are available to you in these situations.
Another important one is when doing shop work like cutting timber or welding. Many people disregard their protective eye-wear because it’s not worth the hassle for ‘that small spot weld’, or ‘this small timber cut’. But remember, just like with sports, it only takes one stray particle or one stray flare to do serious damage to your vision. Not only can the welding sparks ruin your eyes, the intensity of the light can do serious damage on its own. So don’t risk your vision, wear protective eyewear!
Eye Care & Chemicals
Many chemicals can cause immediate burn damage at varying degrees including damage as serious as life-altering loss of vision and even permanent damage. As much as 10% of all eye injuries are a result of chemical burns. While many of these burns result in a minor temporary discomfort, every burn or exposure to hazardous chemicals should be taken seriously.
As per above, you are well advised to follow any precautionary labels on any chemicals you handle – including wearing protective eye-wear if it is advised.
Eye Care & Computers
Much to many parents dismay, studies have conclusively proven that overuse of a computer or television will not cause damage to your eyes. However, it is important to be aware that whilst the eye normally blinks approximately 10 times per minute, when you are staring this drops to 2 to 3 times per minute. You may find that staring at a computer for long periods strains your eyes, usually manifesting for headaches. If you also find your eyes become dry and irritated when using the computer, there are eye drops available – but do not use ‘redness reducing’ drops, as they usually leave the eye looking worse than before, once the chemicals fade.
The best thing to do is simply blink more! It also helps to change your focus, simply look away from the computer to the other side of the room and then back again. A fantastic way to look after your health if you use a computer for extended intervals is to make sure you stand up as often as every 10 minutes, look around, and stretch. This will aid you in reducing headaches from eye strain, but also reverse the damage of sitting with poor posture. Your spine needs only a moment in its correct alignment to ‘reset’ any negative postural effects. So when using a computer, every 10-20 minutes, Stand up, look around, and stretch.
Eye Care & Contact Lenses
It is essential that you follow the practices taught to you by your optometrist when you get contact lenses. You should follow your optometrists’ orders on how to correctly clean your lenses, and how long you can safely wear your contacts. If you don’t, you can open the way for complications such as serious eye infections or ulcers that are quite painful, hard to treat, and require either months of medication or even eye surgery to fix. If you wear contacts, you know what its like to not have good vision, so don’t risk it. When using your contacts – follow your instructions.
Eye Care & Infections
You have probably all heard of the eye infection ‘conjunctivitis’. Conjunctivitis is an eye infection that can be caused by bacteria, a chemical, a virus, an allergic reaction or an irritant that gets into the eye. Conjunctivitis that originated from germs is highly contagious and easily passes from person to person via as little as a simple handshake. Here are some simple tips to avoid spreading the germs that cause eye infections:
- Don’t Share your makeup or eye drops with anyone.
- Never put contacts in your mouth to wet them. Many viruses and bacteria are present in your mouth can easily spread to your eyes!
- Don’t touch the tip of a bottle of eye-drops with your hands. This can transfer germs from your hands to the bottle, and then into your eyes.
- Wash your hands regularly.
How to Deal with Common Eye Problems
One of the most common eye injuries for a teenager is a scratched cornea, often caused by contact lenses or playing sports. A scratched cornea feel like there is something in your eye when there is nothing there. Your eye will likely get red, tear up, and be over-sensitive to light.
Should you wear contact lenses and suffer an eye injury of any kind, it is important that you stop wearing your contact lenses until you consult with an eye specialist. Wearing contact lenses with a damaged eye can cause further damage or an infection.
An excellent rule to follow when caring for your eyes is “when in doubt, check it out!” Some important things to remember for daily life are:
- If you have taken a hit to the eye and experience any changes in your vision, bleeding or the eye looks strange – go immediately to a hospital emergency ward to be checked out.
- If you have constant red eyes, lasting pain in your eye, or any change to your visual acuity, head to an optometrist for a check-up and solution.
- Always resist the urge to rub your eye if you get any particle of foreign matter in it. You should flush your eye with warm water, if this does not clear your eye – then once again, it’s off to the optometrist!
Don’t mess with your vision, losing your vision to carelessness or lacklustre care when your eye may be injured is just not worth the risk.