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6 ways you’re hurting your eyes, and what you can do about it

ARB7R1 Upset Man

Life doesn’t slow down.  We need our eyes every second of every day just to keep up.  Here are some ways you might not realize you’re hurting your eyes.

1. Computer Eyestrain

Millennials are estimated to use technology devices over 12 hours a day.  Computer screens at work.  Cell phones at lunch.  Tablets at home.  Backlit devices often emit harmful blue light that can cause eyestrain, or even interfere with our sleep cycles.

What you can do

We can’t just not use technology.  It’s ingrained in the very fabric of our existence at this point.  But you can limit your use during free time.  Apps like QualityTime  (Android) or Offtime (Apple) can allow users to restrict themselves from too much tech time.   If you wear glasses, using anti-reflective treatments that block the harmful blue light can help with eye fatigue.  Some even get prescription computer glasses for this very reason.  Apple even included the NightShift mode with this in mind.

2. Contact lens overwear

If you wear contacts, chances are you’ve abused your contacts in some way.  Either by:

  • sleeping in them when not prescribed, or
  • by trying to wear them until they bother you, or
  • by wearing lenses not prescribed for your eyes

Contact lenses are medical devices that can cause serious harm to your eyes, even blindness, so they are not to be played around with.

What you can do

The only way to eliminate contact lens related complications is to not wear contacts.  If you choose to wear them, be responsible enough to follow your doctor’s instructions for replacement schedule, removal, and use of solutions. Give your eyes frequent breaks during the nights and weekends (translation: don’t wear them from the time you wake up until right before you go to bed).

3. Over-the-counter eye drops

Some “OTC” drops are great.  I recommend them many times a day for my patients.  But they are not all created equal.  Most of them come with the warning: “If you’re symptoms don’t subside within 48 hours, seek medical care”.  Bet you never knew that was there, huh?  Don’t worry; most people don’t bother to read that fine print.

What you can do

Avoid drops that promise to reduce redness; these can cause dependency or even rebound redness.  If you wear contact lenses, only use drops that are designed for contacts.  If the OTC drops aren’t helping, let us take a look at you before things get any worse.

4. Rubbing your eyes

Sometimes, a good eye rub feels like a good stretch when you wake up in the mornings.  Allergy season especially can give you the urge to rub, rub, rub.  I get it.  But our eyes are very delicate structures.  There are a number of conditions that have been linked to excessive eye rubbing.

What you can do

This is a good time to try over-the-counter tear drops.  Try either Refresh or Systane; all they make are tear drops without harsh medications included.  You can even put them in the refrigerator to help cool them off before instilling them.  If that doesn’t do the trick, you likely need prescription eye drops to help calm the itch.

5. Not wearing sunglasses

UV related sun damage affects nearly 1 out of every 3 Americans.  Those figures increase even more worldwide, especially in countries near the equator.  UV damage is one of the leading causes of cataract formation and macular degeneration.  The damage is cumulative over our lifetime.

What you can do

Get a good pair of sunglasses, and wear them often!  If you wear glasses already, nothing beats having a pair of prescription sunglasses that you can use for your drive home from work, or on weekend trips to the lake.  Many people choose to get polarized lenses to help cut down on glare symptoms.  But the main point is:  protect your eyes from sun damage.

6. Not getting your eyes checked

Like we said before, the eyes are very delicate structures.  Prevention is the name of the game.  Once vision is lost from conditions like glaucoma or macular degeneration, we can’t recover it.  Even if you can see 20/20 right now (or think you can), annual eye exams keep your eyes healthy and vision sharp.

What you can do

Take an early afternoon off from work, and take care of yourself for once.  Let us check your eyes for any risks or damage.  Let us talk with you about ways to keep your vision comfortable with your work and home lifestyle.


The material in this post is for information purposes only, and is not intended to be taken as personal medical advice. Please contact our office to set up an appointment to discuss these matters in detail during your eye exam.