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I am a doctor and this is how you are ruining your vision

You’re staring at a screen right now. And chances are you don’t know the first thing you can do to protect your eyes while doing it. That’s why we wrote this. The truth is, power is in your sights: Diet, lifestyle choices, and good eye hygiene have a lot to do with preserving vision as you age. Eat this, not that! Health asked top eye experts about unexpected ways we could damage our eyesight every day. Here’s what they said you should focus on. Read on and to ensure your health and that of others, don’t miss them Sure signs you’ve already had coronavirus.


You’re getting too lonely

young african american woman smiling and looking up
young african american woman smiling and looking up

“Regardless of where we live or the time of year, overexposure to the sun is an ever-present danger to our eye health,” says Trevor Elmquist, DO, a board-certified ophthalmologist and founder of Elmquist Eye Group in Florida. “We all know the importance of sunscreen, but many don’t consider the harmful effects of UV rays on our eyes.”

The Rx: “Make an effort to wear wide-brimmed hats, UV-blocking contact lenses, and tight-fitting, UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes and prevent long-term damage,” says Elmquist. When shopping for sunglasses, check the label and only buy sunglasses that block 99% of UVA and UVB radiation.


You are not on an anti-inflammatory diet

Man holds useful bunch of spinach in hand closeup on kitchen background
Man holds useful bunch of spinach in hand closeup on kitchen background

“Diet plays a surprising role in vision health, helping and harming,” says Lisa Richards, nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet. “Refined and processed foods have inflammatory effects in the body, including the eyes. Chronic inflammation can be harmful to the eyes and cause vision problems.”

The Rx: Base your diet on lean proteins, healthy fats, and the full range of colors of fruits and vegetables. “We should try to ‘eat the rainbow’ not only for our general well-being but for eye health as well,” says Richards. “Fruits and vegetables, along with lean meats, fatty fish, whole grains and low-fat dairy products provide the eyes with the support they need to prevent damage.”

“It is true that carrots are good for the eyes,” adds Elmquist. “A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and fish high in omega 3 fatty acids, can help protect vision.”


You are not following the 20-20-20 rule

Woman lying in bed reaching to check mobile phone
Woman lying in bed reaching to check mobile phone

Several eye doctors told us that if you stare at your phone or computer screen all day, practice 20-20-20 to reduce eye strain: “Every 20 minutes, look away from the screens and focus at around 6. meters in front of you for 20 seconds, “Elmquist explains. And don’t forget to blink. “Blinking regularly is also crucial for cleaning and lubricating the surface of the eye,” he says. “Studies show that we tend to blink less when using a digital device, and the smaller the screen, the less we blink.”

The Rx: You may need to remember to make blinking a routine. “Every time you get up to use the bathroom or go to a meeting, try five full blinks to wake your eyes,” suggests Charissa Lee, OD, optometrist and director of education at Johnson & Johnson Vision. “Blinking is important to activate the sebaceous glands in the eyelids and to diffuse these beneficial oils and the protective layer of the tear film through the eyes.”


You’re giving yourself dry eye syndrome (DES)

man who lowers his eyelid checking his eye looking into the mirrow does not feel well has black circles
man who lowers his eyelid checking his eye looking into the mirrow does not feel well has black circles

“We unknowingly ruin our vision when we create a lifestyle that accelerates the aging process,” says Kellie Blake, RDN, LD, IFNCP, registered dietitian nutritionist based in West Virginia. Oxidative stress, the cell damage process that antioxidants prevent, can increase as the body ages, he explains. “If our lifestyle accelerates this process, delicate eye tissues are susceptible to damage and diseases such as dry eye syndrome (DES) can occur. DES can cause vision loss if the causes are not addressed. at the root, such as an inadequate vitamin D level, a nutrient-poor diet, autoimmune diseases, drug use and inflammatory skin conditions. “

The Rx: “We can slow the aging of our cells and protect our eyes by creating a lifestyle that keeps our mitochondria healthy,” says Blake. “Eating a plant-based, nutrient-rich diet is essential, but we also need to achieve restful sleep, practice mindful movements and manage stress in a healthy way.”


You’re using an expired trick

“Because makeup can come into contact with your eyes, applying expired makeup products is an easy transition to bacteria and other infections,” says Christine Joy, OD, optometrist and physician at the VSP Network in New York City.

The Rx: “As a rule, you should replace your eye makeup every three months to reduce the risk of infection,” says Joy. “Also, practice removing your makeup every night and never share your makeup.”

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You’re stressing

stressed woman
stressed woman

If you constantly pull out your hair, your eyes will pay for it. “Unmanaged chronic mental stress has a physical impact on the body and can be problematic for the ocular system,” says Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC, a registered dietitian based in New Jersey. “According to research, chronic stress that causes spikes in the stress hormone cortisol can negatively impact the nervous system. When the nervous system is not functioning properly, it can affect our brains and eyes, resulting in problems with view”.

Cortisol also tells the body to retain fat, particularly around the midsection. And it’s sneaky. Adds Kimszal, “The biggest problem with stress is that someone may not feel stressed, but their body may still be pumping cortisol. This constant state of stress can also deplete the body of needed nutrients.”

The Rx: Combat stress with exercise, spend time with loved ones, and with relaxation techniques such as meditation and mindfulness. Diet Can Help: “Vitamins C and E, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids are needed to maintain healthy vision,” says Kimszal.


You’re rubbing your eyes

Tired stressed woman rubbing her eyes
Tired stressed woman rubbing her eyes

Your mother was right: your face could really freeze like that. “Rubbing the eyes too frequently can cause microvascular damage to the small blood vessels under the skin,” says Anthony Kouri, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Toledo Medical Center. “This leads to dark circles and puffiness. Rubbing the eyes also causes premature aging of the skin around the eyes, including wrinkles and droopy eyelids.”

The Rx: Hands down! “Avoid scrubbing this area to keep your youthful look,” says Kouri.


You are smoking

A close up shot of an open pack of cigarettes.
A close up shot of an open pack of cigarettes.

The smoke getting into your eyes may have inspired a good ballad, but there is actually nothing romantic about it. “Smoking creates oxidative stress on tissues throughout the body. In the eyes, the areas most prone to this are the macula. [an area in the center of the retina] and the lens, “says Wang.” The formation of free radicals can contribute to the development of macular degeneration and cataracts, which have been shown to occur more commonly and at an earlier age in those who smoke. Externally, smoking is an irritant to the delicate structures of the cornea and conjunctiva, which can lead to chronic dryness and red eyes. “

The Rx: If you haven’t quit smoking, what more are you waiting for? See your doctor if you have trouble quitting; Nicotine patches and gums can help.


You’re not getting enough sleep

smiling woman while sleeping in her bed at home
smiling woman while sleeping in her bed at home

“If we don’t get enough sleep at night, it can speed up the aging process,” says Kouri. “This can lead to bloodshot eyes, dark circles, eye twitching (known as myochemia) and blurred vision. For long periods of time with inadequate rest, we can experience ruptured blood vessels due to eye fatigue. Additionally, we may experience bursting blood vessels due to eye fatigue. dry eyes which can cause pain, itching and sensitivity to light. “

The Rx: Experts, including the National Sleep Foundation, say adults of all ages should sleep seven to nine hours a night. This won’t just help preserve your vision – it has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and depression.


You’re not having an annual eye exam

Close up of female hand pointing at eye chart with latin letters during vision test in ophthalmology clinic
Close up of female hand pointing at eye chart with latin letters during vision test in ophthalmology clinic

It is a common misconception that you should only see an eye doctor when you notice there is a problem with your vision. “Even if you think you see well, it’s important to book an appointment with your eye doctor every year,” says Lee. “When you walk in, they will make sure to check all aspects of your eye health, including how healthy the front and back of the eyes are. This can help identify potential problems such as meibomian gland dysfunction, otherwise known as dry eye – early signs of glaucoma, or even serious things like melanoma. “

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You have untreated myopia (myopia)

the boy is holding his glasses
boy is holding his glasses

Myopia may seem like a harmless consequence of aging, but “if left untreated, it can cause irreversible vision damage and blindness,” says Lee. Genetics can increase risk, along with lifestyle factors such as being too close to work (reading, writing, or screen) and spending limited time outdoors.

The Rx: “The Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans, on average, spend 90 percent of their time indoors, so make a conscious effort to spend more time outdoors, especially when the weather is nice,” says Lee.


You have poor hygiene

Girl washing her hands under running water in a black sink
Girl washing her hands under running water in a black sink

Keeping your hands and eyes clean is the simplest thing you can do to maintain eye health. “Poor hygiene can increase the risk of eye health problems such as infection,” says Lee.

The Rx: “To reduce this risk, you should wash your hands often to reduce the risk of bacteria being transferred to your eyes if you tend to rub them,” says Lee. “If you are a contact lens wearer, be sure to replace the case every two to three months and use specific contact lens solutions. Also, don’t wear contact lenses in the shower or while swimming.”


You don’t wear goggles when you swim

Swimming goggles
Swimming goggles

You don’t want to open your eyes too much in the pool. Really. “Human eyes are not meant to function properly underwater, hence the blur when trying to see there,” says Richard Foulkes, MD, an ophthalmologist and founder of Foulkes Vision in Chicago. “Think about everything that goes into a swimming pool: chemicals like chlorine, sunscreen, sweat, dust, urine can come into contact with your eyes. Believe it or not, salt water is actually safer for your eyes of chlorine. If you wear contact lenses, the contamination can be absorbed onto a contact lens and keeping the lens on the cornea can cause infection. Any debris can also get trapped under the contact lens, causing corneal ulcers or corneal tears “.

The Rx: “Always wear well-fitting goggles when swimming,” says Foulkes. And make sure they are snug. “If they don’t fit properly, water can leak out of the glasses, causing irritation and even leading to infection.”


You are using your contact lenses in the wrong way

woman putting contact lens in right eye,
woman putting contact lens in right eye,

“Not disposing of contacts within the recommended time frame, and sleeping with contact lenses increases the risk of bacterial infections and inflammation of the eyes,” says Joy. “Wearing contact lenses for too long during the day can reduce the amount of oxygen in your eyes and cause dry eyes or irritation. Swimming or showering in contact lenses is also a big no-no. You can put yourself at risk for a dangerous sight and threatening infection called Acanthamoeba, a type of amoeba that lives in water, which can get trapped under contact lenses. “

The Rx: “It is highly recommended that you remove your contact lenses while swimming, showering or taking a nap,” advises Joy. “Make sure you dispose of your contact lenses regularly and give your eyes a break with glasses when you can.”


You are not exercising

woman in sportswear at home, doing home fitness and training abs on Swiss ball in living room
woman in sportswear at home, doing home fitness and training abs on Swiss ball in living room

“Your eyes benefit from exercise just as much as the rest of your body. High blood pressure and diabetes can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle,” says Joy. Both can contribute to vision problems. “Regular exercise not only helps prevent these diseases, it also reduces the chances of developing glaucoma. Just like our brains, our eyes need oxygen to maintain an optimal level of performance.”

The Rx: “Exercising regularly, even a light walk, is a great way to keep your eyes sharp.”

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You are not wearing safety glasses

repairman with protective glasses, is using a drill and is doing a house renovation
repairman with protective glasses, is using a drill and is doing a house renovation

Forty-five percent of eye injuries occur at home, “often due to inadequate eye protection,” says Kouri. “Household risks include chemicals from cleaning or pool products, home improvement projects, or hot grease from cooking.”

The Rx: Better to be safe than (really, really) sorry. “If you’re doing a home improvement project or cleaning your house, it’s best to wear protective eye wear,” says Kouri.


You’re drinking too much

The bartender serves whiskey, on the wooden bar.
The bartender serves whiskey, on the wooden bar.

It turns out that the expression “blind drunk” is not just a turn of phrase. “Excessive alcohol consumption can adversely affect vision by aggravating and intensifying dry eye symptoms,” says Joy. “These symptoms can include stinging or stinging sensations in the eyes, sensitivity to light, redness, discomfort when wearing contact lenses and eye fatigue.”

The Rx: Experts say men should limit themselves to two drinks a day and women should stop at one. Not just for your eyesight, but to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.


You are addicted to screens

using the phone in bed
using the phone in bed

“The use of digital devices and cell phones can contribute to severe eye strain,” says Ming Wang, MD, PhD, eye surgeon and founder of the Wang Vision Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. “Focusing effort for close-up activities can cause some people’s eyes to lock into close focus, which can temporarily blur far vision. Over time, it can lead to the development of greater myopia. when the eyes adjust to close focus This is believed to be part of what is causing the development of higher levels of myopia among young children in high-tech countries like China, Japan, Korea and the United States. “

The Rx: Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes take a 20-second break and look 6 meters away.


You are not drinking enough water

Woman wearing jean shirt using laptop in office and holding plastic bottle of water
Woman wearing jean shirt using laptop in office and holding plastic bottle of water

“It’s important to keep your eyes hydrated,” says Wang. “The surface of the eye is the first surface that light hits before it reaches the back of the eye, providing vision. When the surface is not hydrated, someone’s vision can be temporarily very blurry. Over time, a poorly hydrated surface can form cracks and actually lead to less scar tissue development, which can cause more permanent blurred vision. “

The Rx: “A healthy diet, drinking lots of water, and taking breaks from reading work are ways to keep your eyes hydrated naturally,” says Wang. “If that’s not enough, daily use of over-the-counter artificial tears two to six times a day can help. If this doesn’t provide adequate relief, see an eye doctor.”


You don’t take your makeup off at night

happy woman washing face
happy woman washing face

“For the wearer, not removing makeup opens the eyes to risk,” says Wang. “Bacteria and parasites can grow in areas along the eyelids and eyelashes. These organisms then secrete toxins that can fall into the eyes and contribute to irritation, redness and itching. Over time, they can cause permanent damage to the structures that secrete component tears (the glands of Meibomian) leading to chronic dry eye. “

The Rx: Make sure you remove your makeup every night. And to overcome this pandemic in the healthiest way, don’t miss these 35 places where COVID is most likely to be caught.

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