Taking care of your eyes is essential in order to ward off avoidable eye conditions which can in some cases have severe implications. If you’re a wearer of contact lenses, it is even more important that you are aware of how to take care of your eyes, as there is an increased risk of contracting an eye condition. However, by adhering to a few easy to follow tips on eye care, you can significantly reduce these risks.
#1 Always Clean & Dry Your Hands before Handling Contact Lenses
Throughout the course of the day, you’re hands come into contact with a range of objects which will transfer bacteria to your hands. If you handle contact lenses without thoroughly cleaning and drying your hands first, you’re likely to transfer bacteria to the contact lens, which will in turn transfer it to your eyes (therefore increasing the probability of an eye infection). Just by following this tip before you apply and remove your lenses, you’re already on your way to healthier eyes.
#2 Only Use Contact Lens Solution to Clean your Lenses
Contact lens solution is specially designed for cleaning and storing contact lenses, and using an alternative (such as water) may transfer bacteria to your contact lenses. Additionally, if you find your eyes getting dry, don’t lick your contacts (as crazy as it might sound, some people do this) as that’s just asking for an eye infection. Eye drops are a great way to combat dry eyes safely. A popular brand is Blink Contacts, which is designed specifically for contact lens wearers.
#3 Don’t Wear Your Contact Lenses for Longer than Recommended
If you’re a daily lens wearer, throw the lenses away after one use. They’re made to be worn one day, and wearing them longer than they are designed for can again damage your eyes. For monthly contact lens wearers, it’s easy to forget when you changed your lenses last, so it’s a good idea to make a note somewhere of when you need to swap your contacts for a new pair. Bacteria and debris can built up during the course of a month, so following your optician’s recommendations is going to help you keep your eyes healthy.
#4 Give Your Eyes a Break Now and Again
While the fashionistas who hate to go a day without lenses may not like this tip, it’s good for your eyes if you give them a break now and again from contact lenses. While new material such as silicone hydrogel has made them healthier and allows more oxygen to reach your eye, a break is still highly recommended. Oxygen is good for your eyes, and going a day or two without contacts will allow more oxygen to reach your eyes, reducing the likelihood of an eye condition which may require you to stop wearing lenses for a longer period of time.
By following these four tips, you’ll dramatically reduce the risk of conditions such as conjunctivitis, and be on your way to healthier eyes and sight and a more comfortable contact lens wearing experience.
With so many professions being computer dependent, it’s nearly impossible for most folks to decrease the time they spend staring at a screen. So, what can you do to protect your vision?
1. Proper lighting: Whether reading a book or an illuminated digital screen, a desk lamp aimed at your workspace helps minimize eye strain.
2. Proper positioning: Setting your computer in a position so that you are looking downward several inches tends to be the most comfortable for the eyes. Also, try to minimize the amount of glare and reflections from lights or windows picked up by your screen.
3. Blink: It’s easy to get so caught up in what’s on our monitors that we stare excessively and forget to blink normally. Yet, the tears that wash over our eyes when blinking help prevent irritation and drying. So, try to be aware of whether or not you’re blinking and blink frequently.
4. Take regular breaks: If possible take a break from the screen every 20-30 minutes, looking at something more distant for half a minute or so. This shift in focus engages other eye muscles and gives the ones focusing on your monitor some time to relax.
5. Eye exercises: There are a number of exercises you can do to strengthen your eye muscles, including making figure eights with your eyes while keeping your head straight. Another exercise that requires you to alternate the focus of your eyes (thus engaging different muscles) is a little trickier: Point your index fingers toward each other, about an inch apart. Hold them about eight inches away from your eyes at eye level. Look over your fingers at a distant object while still visually being aware of your fingers. If you’re doing it right, you will see a little “hot dog” floating between your two fingers (can take a few tries to get it.) Refocus your eyes on your fingers. Repeat several times.
As the weather warms up, visions of sandy beaches, family picnics and outdoor adventures become reality, but with all that time outside, don't forget to keep your peepers protected from the serious dangers associated with UV rays. Just as we make the effort to protect our skin from sunburns, we should also make sure that our eyes are safeguarded as well so that we can maintain healthy vision for many summers to come.
Here are some ways to protect your eyes from sun damage this summer.
Wear a hat. Wide brimmed hats shade your eyes from the sun's rays
It’s easy to forget how important eye health is, until a problem comes up. Here are some easy, commonsense tips to help avoid macular degeneration, cataracts, blurry “computer” vision and more.<p.
1. Eat greens. Ingesting lots of leafy green vegetables like spinach, collard greens and kale help avoid macular degeneration. (The “macula” is an area at the back of the eye that enables us to see fine details. When the macula doesn’t work, there is blurriness or darkness in the center of our vision).
2. Take vitamins. There are supplements made specifically for eye health. Be sure that they include these: Vitamins A, C, E and B2 and the minerals zinc and selenium.
3. Keep your eyes hydrated. A simple saline solution can help to lubricate and soothe eyes. (Be sure to check with your doctor if you experience stinging or burning in your eyes, or a sandy or gritty feeling, or you don’t produce tears when you cry. These symptoms could indicate “dry eye,” a condition that needs medical attention).
4. Eat apricots and blueberries. Blueberries are associated with reduction of eye fatigue and apricots are rich in beta carotene and lycopene, both of which promote good vision.
5. Get plenty of Omega 3 fish oil. It helps clear eyesight and eye health. (Heart-healthy diets in general tend to be good for the eyes as well, since blood circulation is so important to eye health).
6. Pamper your eyes. Try placing two slices of soothing cucumber over closed eyes for 15 minutes. It cools and refreshes the eyes.
7. Drink tea. It’s thought that drinking tea might help to deter cataracts.
8. Try Bilberry. This herbal remedy, according to some herbalists, can help to improve night vision.
9. Wear UV filtering sunglasses. Harmful UVA and UVB rays can contribute to cataracts.
10. Give them a break. If you work at a computer, remember the 20/20/20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes. For 20 seconds, look at something 20 feet away or farther. This allows your eyes to refocus and relax and prevents the blurry vision that can occur by staring at a computer screen for too long.
These common sense tips, in addition to regular visits to a qualified ophthalmologist, will help your eyes stay healthy for years to come.
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