Common Eye Care Mistakes
Prioritizing your annual eye exam is just one of the many ways to protect your eyesight and vision health proactively. The next best thing you can do is avoid these eight common eye care mistakes.
Avoid These 6 Common Eye Care Oversights
The following eight eye care mistakes are the most common reasons patients make emergency visits to the eye doctor.
Sleeping in contact lenses is one of the many eye care mistakes
We don’t care if your contact lens manufacturers advertise they’re safe to sleep in. You should always remove contact lenses at night and throw them away (if they’re disposable) or follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and overnight (or long-term) storage.
Sleeping with contact lenses increases your risk of eye infections and exacerbates allergy symptoms. It can also cause scratched corneas or other surface irritations if even the smallest particles are trapped between the contact lens and your eye.
Staring too long at computers and screens
We notice increasing diagnoses of dry eye, and there is a common cause: too much time spent in front of screens. If you use a computer for work or you spend more than a couple hours each day in front of a screen, it’s time to practice the 20-20-20 rule.
When staring at a screen, your eyes don’t blink as much, leading to eye strain and dry eye symptoms. By taking a break every 20 minutes, for at least 20 seconds, while gazing at a distance of 20 feet or more away from you, you give your eyes a well-needed break. We also recommend doing soothing eye exercises at least once per workday to further benefit your eyes.
Not using adequate protection from the sun
Your skin isn’t the only organ prone to UV damage. The eyes are particularly sensitive to sunlight, and damaging UV rays cause serious damage if you’re not careful. While short-term sun damage to the eyes (similar to a bad sunburn on the skin) can lead to redness, tearing, light sensitivity, and a gritty or uncomfortable feeling. Long-term sun damage can lead to the development of pinguecula and pterygium - both of which become permanent issues.
Always wear sunglasses with full UV protection when spending time outdoors, including on cloudy days, especially when near water or playing in the snow. A hat is also a good way to provide greater-spectrum protection from sun and sun glare.
Ignoring symptoms or issues
We understand that time flies when the schedule is busy. It’s easy to let mild eye symptoms or issues go on for weeks - or months - at a time before seeing your eye doctor. However, the longer you wait for a diagnosis, the harder it can be to treat the issue. In worst-case scenarios, that can lead to permanent vision loss or blindness.
Always call your optometrist if you experience unusual or prolonged symptoms, such as:
- Chronic redness
- Flashes or floaters
- Dry eyes
- Spots of blurred or blocked vision
- Loss of any amount of peripheral or central vision
- Eye pain or discomfort
- Increased or more frequent headaches or migraines
If you’re too busy to come in for an appointment, we can schedule a confidential, Telehealth appointment via video to learn more about your symptoms. That way, you don’t have to “waste a trip” to the optometrist's office unless we feel it’s more serious.
Sharing eye makeup & other makeup no-nos
Teenagers and young adults are the most guilty of sharing eye makeup, but it’s a big no-no. Sharing eye makeup with family members, friends, or peers is one of the most common ways to spread eye infections - which are highly contagious. Purchase extra sets of your favorite eye makeup and keep one in your purse, backpack, glove compartment, desk drawer, work locker, or wherever else you’ll likely use it.
That said, it’s also important to keep eye makeup fresh. Old eye makeup (six months old or more) can become a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus, or viruses. So discard old eye makeup - particularly liquid eyeliner and mascara, to minimize infection risk.
Rubbing your eyes too much
Rubbing your eyes may feel good, but it’s a leading cause of scratched membranes and corneas. Continuous friction between your eyelids and your eye's surface can cause chronic micro-scratches and abrasions. In addition to being uncomfortable, these injuries make you more prone to infections. Over time, deeper abrasions can lead to permanent damage to the cornea.
Figure out why you’re rubbing your eyes, and then figure out how to prevent excessive eye rubbing. For example:
- Are they itchy from allergies? Minimize irritant exposure and talk to your physician or optometrist about over-the-counter allergy medications and allergy-eye drops to eliminate itching.
- Are you getting enough sleep? Eye rubbing is often a sign of fatigue. The better rested you are, the less apt you are to rub your eyes.
- Do you rub them to relieve eye strain? In this case, it’s time to figure out why the eyes are so tired. It could be that you’re ready for a new lens prescription, are spending too much time on screens or reading without taking proper breaks, or that the typical age-related vision changes are taking their toll.
- Could you have dry eyes? We talked about dry eye above, but the urge to rub the eyes may be caused by a lack of lubrication. Try reducing dry eye symptoms at home, but make sure to contact your optometrist if that isn’t sufficient.
Make sure to rest your eyes more, use preservative-free eye drops to soothe and lubricate the eyes, and let your optometrist know at your next appointment.
Are You Guilty Of These Common Eye Care Mistakes?
Make vision health a priority and break these common eye care habits before they compromise your vision health. Is it time to schedule an appointment? Contact Eye to Eye Family Vision Care.