WAYS YOU’RE UNKNOWINGLY HURTING YOUR EYES
Genetics predispose many of our patients to need corrective lenses to overcome blurry vision on a daily basis. But regardless of their genes, many people unwittingly do a number of things that negatively impact their ocular health and vision every day. As LASIK Surgeons we’ve learned that for most of our patients, it’s the damage they don’t even know they are doing that catches up to them and requires LASIK surgery in the end.
Behaviors that risk eye strain include common activities such as staring at computer and tablet screens for hours, as well as a host of other less well-known behaviors. Experts have hypothesized for years that too much close-up work is bad for your vision and leads to nearsightedness. Working at a computer, tablet, or smartphone is the definition of detrimental close up work. Beyond just doing close-up work, which most people cannot avoid, the way in which you work can also be problematic.
Your eyes need a break every 30 minutes. You should take the time to look at something at least 30 feet away for at least 30 seconds. This is the 30/30/30 rule, an easy tool to remember how to care for your eyes. Ideally that break should involve looking outside where natural light dominates instead of artificial, where there are soft, natural browns and greens. You should feel your eyes and face relax. This holds true for strain due to reading a book in low light or with fine print, and due to prolonged reading as well as working with technology. Failing to take these breaks tires the eye muscles, which can make you blink less, leading to dryness and a number of vision problems.
2. Minor, Daily Trauma
Many daily tasks, from yard work to cooking to garage work, and even spending time outside on a windy day, lead to minor trauma to the surface of the eye. Your eye can naturally withstand some of this damage and clean and repair itself to a degree, but over time the minor scratches and damage can add up and lead to cloudy vision. LASIK surgery cannot correct this kind of trauma, but there are some surgical options. The solution is to protect your eyes when they would be exposed to these kinds of trauma with protective eyewear such as sunglasses.
3. Poor Health
Your eyes are organs just like your heart or your skin. If you are unhealthy, your eyes and other organs don’t get sufficient amounts of blood, oxygen, and nutrients, and they do experience too much of other things like pressure or salt. If you have high blood pressure or a weak heart, your eyes are slowly suffering, and eventually your vision will be impacted. Diabetes damages blood vessels in the eyes, which is particularly detrimental. You may not have considered the indirect impact of your health on your vision, but the worse you are at caring for the body, the more dramatic the potential impact on your vision. Eye surgery can be used to recover from these effects, but prevention is the best strategy.
Diet and health go hand-in-hand. Your eyes also have specific needs, although these needs are much the same as your brain and your general health. Proper nutrition includes lots of green, leafy vegetables and foods full of omega-3 fatty acids, both of which promote better vision as well as improved general health. Carrots, nuts, and seafood also help you eyes get the vitamins and nutrients they need to keep working well.
5. Low-quality Glasses
This one is personal and more controversial, but it relates directly to the first risk discussed above. Cheap sunglasses are bad for your eyes. They can force your eyes to strain just to see as well as they normally do naked. Furthermore, opaque sunglasses without a built-in UV factor increase ultraviolet damage to your eyes. The decreased amount of light hitting your iris causes it to dilate, which in turns lets more UV into your eye through the flimsy lenses. The risks of ocular UV damage are well documented, and far too great to make risking them worth the budgetary or fashion advantages of very low cost glasses.
If you weren’t born with a predisposition to need corrective lenses, your habits can damage your eyes to the point that you need still need them. LASIK surgery can help correct your vision problems in either case, but you can also take steps to curtail these harmful behaviors before the damage occurs.