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Giselle Castro-SlobodaFitness and Nutrition Writer
I'm a Fitness & Nutrition writer for CNET who enjoys reviewing the latest fitness gadgets, testing out activewear and sneakers, as well as debunking wellness myths. On my spare time I enjoy cooking new recipes, going for a scenic run, hitting the weight room, or binge-watching many TV shows at once. I am a former personal trainer and still enjoy learning and brushing up on my training knowledge from time to time. I've had my wellness and lifestyle content published in various online publications such as: Women's Health, Shape, Healthline, Popsugar and more.
If you've never experienced any issues with your vision or your eye health for that matter, then you probably don't think much about how your daily habits can affect them. Unfortunately, you may be causing more harm than good by ignoring them. Things like looking at your cellphone or laptop and other screens all day, for example, are taking a toll on your eye health and vision. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in the next 30 years at least 150 percent more people will develop vision issues. Remember it's never too early to care for your vision. Chances are your future self will thank you for being proactive to protect your eyes years prior.
Below are every day common habits you may be doing that harm your vision, and what preventative measures you can take. If you're experiencing changes to vision or eye health, it's important to make sure you reach out to your eye care provider who can help you get the appropriate testing schedule.
Using expired makeup
It's easy to forget that your favorite makeup products have a life span, especially when you use them every day. However, using expired mascara and eyeliners can put your eyes at risk of infection. A good rule of thumb when determining when it's time to ditch the product is to look for the Period After Opening, or PAO. This stamp will tell you how long you've got after opening the product before it needs to be replaced. For example, usually mascara can last about three months. It's also important to properly store your cosmetics. Improper storage can affect the longevity of a product and can lead to the growth of bacteria or mold, putting you at risk of an infection.
Reusing contact lenses
If you think you're saving money by recycling your contacts, it may end up costing you more in the long run. As someone who used to do this and as a result ended up with multiple eye infections, I can attest that it's a habit worth breaking. When I switched to using daily contacts and interchangeably using glasses, I drastically reduced my chances of developing an eye infection and kept my eyes healthier. Changing to dailies is worth considering: One study found that people who wear reusable contact lenses are about four times more at risk of developing Acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare eye infection that can increase your risk of vision loss or blindness, compared with folks who use daily contacts.
Other habits you should break with your contact lenses include sleeping, showering or swimming with them on. Dr. Mackenzie Sward, a board-certified ophthalmologist, warns, "Sleeping in your contact lenses and failing to properly clean your lenses can significantly increase the risk of a corneal ulcer caused by a bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection." As if that wasn't concerning enough, vision loss from contact lens-related complications may be severe and permanent.
Not wearing sunglasses
You know that your skin needs sunscreen to protect it from harmful UV rays, and believe it or not, your eyes need to be shielded as well. Sward recommends wearing proper UV protection when outdoors or in the car, even if it's overcast. "That is because harmful UVA and UVB rays in the atmosphere can increase the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, skin cancer of the eyelid, and other diseases of the eye," she explains. To protect your eyes, Sward advises opting for sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection every time you step outside.
"Cumulative UV exposure and damage only increases the lifetime incidence of macular degeneration, cataracts, pterygium and skin cancer," she explains. These conditions may be permanent or require surgical treatment to correct. People in occupations with more outdoor work, such as construction or landscaping, are at higher risk of certain conditions related to UV damage, so they should be more mindful of protecting themselves.
Not wearing protective eyewear
You should also be wearing protective eyewear when playing sports or doing work that involves the risk of an eye injury. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "estimates that about 2,000 people per day sustain work-related eye injuries, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that there are 30,000 sports related eye injuries every year in the United States," said Sward. Many of these injuries are preventable and usually involve foreign objects that get stuck in the eye, like dust, wood, metal or plant debris. Other injuries you can sustain from lack of eye protection include blunt or direct trauma from falls or from larger objects such as tools that hit the face.
Besides the known multiple health risks smoking can lead to, it can also harm your eyes. Smoking cigarettes doubles the risk of macular degeneration, which can cause you to lose vision in the part of your eye known as the macula. Smoking also harms your retina and increases your chances of cataracts, which cloud your eye's lenses and can also lead to loss of vision. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, smokers are about three times more likely to develop cataracts and up to four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration compared with nonsmokers. So if you're a smoker, it would be in your best interest to kick the habit.
Sward recommends taking frequent breaks from screens to let your eyes relax and getting fitted for a pair of prescription lenses that are specifically made for use at the computer. "It is important to see an eye care professional regularly to ensure you are wearing the appropriate eyeglass correction and [to] screen for eye conditions that may otherwise not have any symptoms," she said.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.