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October 10, 2022

9 Bad Habits That Are Aging Your Eyes

“Better eye health” might not have be one of your life's greatest "improvement areas", but if taking better care of yourself made the list, then your eyes did, too. Cryogenically freezing your body or finding the fountain of youth might be a long shot, but there are easy ways to protect your eyes as you age before your eyeballsinevitably dry up like raisins.You might be pushing forty, or maybe that ship has sailed, but your eyes can stay relatively youthful provided you steer clear of certain habits. In other words, check yourself before you wreck yourself!

Here are nine bad habits that are negatively affecting your eye health and aging your eyes.

  1. Forgetting Your Shades. According to the American Optometric Association, sunglasses are necessary protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays, no matter what time of year it is. Years of chronic sunlight can increase your risk ofcataracts, according to astudy funded in part by the National Eye Institute (NEI). Keep in mind that not all sunglasses are created equal! Although most Americans own a pair of shades, 41% of consumers do NOT check for adequate UV protection before they buy them. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that your sunglasses should always block 100% of ultraviolet light. In addition to this, be sure to look for polarized lenses to help with glare reduction. When it comes to style, opt for wraparound sunglasses or a larger sized frame that will protect your peripheral vision.   
  2. Rubbing Your Eyes. You probably don’t realize how often you rub your eyes over the course of one day, but let’s put it this way- it’s enough to age your eyes. The skin around your peepers is chock-full of tiny blood vessels that can easily break when you rub a little too hard, which can lead to drooping eyelids, premature crows feet (the Botox industry is booming), dark circles and red, puffy eyes. Remember, your hands have more germs on them than any other part of the human body, so do yourself a favor and keep them away from your face.
  3. Smoking. There are a million reasons why smoking is a bad idea, but most people don’t realize the negative impact it has on eye health. Smoking is linked tocataracts,macular degeneration, uveitis (a form of eye inflammation), dry eye and more. Believe it or not, smokers double their chance of forming cataracts and are four times more likely to go blind than non-smokers.Smokers also have a three-fold increase in their risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, a condition which affects the center of the retina and creates blind spots that impair central vision.Not-so-fun-fact: AMD is the leading cause of permanent vision loss for Americans over 65.
  4. Poor Diet. We all know that a diet of Totino’s pizza rolls and Mountain Dew is a recipe for fat pants, but poor nutrition can also be responsible for premature aging of the eyes (calm down, Janice, I don’t make the rules). Studies havefound that zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, C and E can all lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration and reduce your risk of age-related cataracts. This isn’t rocket science, people. A diet with eye-enhancing nutrients will protect your eye health, so put down that Snickers bar (even if you are hangry) and reach for some antioxidant-rich citrus fruits, leafy greens containing phytochemicals, and...oily fish. Like I said, I don’t make the rules.
  5. Dehydration.Doctors commonly recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (also known as the 8x8 rule), so consider this your daily reminder to put down that coffee mug and pick up a glass of water. Dehydration occurs when more water leaves than enters the body, so if that office Keurig has sent you to the bathroom five times in the last hour, that fluid needs to be replaced ASAP. Hydration is important for maintaining healthy skin and joints as we age, but it’s also crucial if you want to avoid dry eye, a condition that occurs when there are insufficient tears to nourish the eye and provide clear vision.
  6. Not Enough Sleepy Times. A lack of sleep can lead to puffy, bloodshot eyes, dark circles around the eyes, dry eyes, eye twitching, popped eye vessels and blurry vision, so catch those z’s before you start looking like a character onDracula. Most healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best, so if you’re struggling with insomnia, your eyes are struggling, too. 
  7. Too Much Screen Time. If your job requires you to spend a lot of time on a computer (like mine), or if you’re just a social media addict, it’s important to be aware of digital eye strain and take steps to prevent it. Symptoms of digital eye strain include dry eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue or soreness, eye twitching, red eyes and more. If logging off the internet isn’t an option for you, try adjusting your display settings on your device, taking frequent breaks (look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes), and considerblue light blocking lenses to protect your eyes from high-energy blue light.
  8. Going Overboard With Eye Makeup. We’re all tempted to play with eye makeup in an effort to make ourselves look more youthful or awake, but if you’re not careful, it can lead to conjunctivitis, scratched corneas, and/or allergic reactions. No one ever looked young with a bad case of pink eye, so avoid sharing eye makeup, applying it in a moving vehicle, and using expired products. 
  9. Avoiding The Eye Doctor. Most eye doctors recommend having a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years, depending on your age, risk factors and current eye health. According to a study by the CDC, most Americans skip eye exams because they think their eyes are healthy, despite the fact that many eye diseases go undetected and cause harm long before people are aware of changes in their vision (yikes). Unless you’re willing to gamble with your eyesight, regular visits to your eye doctor are the best way to protect your eyes, detect vision problems, treat eye disease, and protect your eyes from aging. 

Worried that your eyes are aging before their time? Stop looking for the fountain of youth, avoid bad eye health, and schedule an appointment today!