10 Habits That Hurt Your Eyes

Certain habits can cause stress, strain, and even permanent damage to your eyes. Are you guilty of any of these?

1. You wear old glasses/contacts. If your lens prescription is outdated, you could be making your eyes work overtime. While wearing the wrong prescription won't actually damage your eyes, it could cause eyestrain, sore eyes, and headaches.

  • Have your eyes examined by an eye health specialist and your lens prescription reevaluated every two years or sooner.

2. You stare at a computer screen all day. If you spend too much time focused on the computer, you may forget to blink or look away as often as your eyes require. This can lead to dry eyes and eye fatigue. 

  • The National Eye Institute recommends the 20-20-20 rule to help reduce eyestrain: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
  • Use a couple drops of saline solution to keep your eyes moist and comfortable.

3. You don't wash your hands. Bacteria on our hands can transfer to contact lenses or directly into your eyes when you touch them. This can cause bacterial and viral infections. 

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before putting in lenses and applying eye makeup.  Avoid touching your eyes as much as possible.

4. You don't clean your contact lenses properly. Bacteria and debris can build up on your contact lenses and cause eye infections and abrasions if you don't clean them thoroughly and properly.

  • Follow your optometrist's instructions for how to clean your contacts and what products to use. Be diligent about keeping your lenses clean.

5. You don't wear the right sunglasses. Your eyes need protection from the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays just like your skin does. 

  • Buy sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays, and wear them whenever you spend prolonged time in the sun.

6. You don't use the right eye protection. Your regular glasses won't provide enough protection when you're doing yard work, playing certain sports, or doing other activities that can injure your eyes. 

  • Use protective eyewear made of polycarbonite materials, which are 10 times stronger than regular eyeglasses. A variety of styles are available at sporting goods and hardware stores or through an optometrist.

7. You smoke. Studies have linked smoking to increased risks for macular degeneration, optic nerve damage, and cataracts, which can all cause blindness.

  • Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs, products, and support groups to help you kick the nicotine habit.

8. You don't eat properly. Your eyes need the right nutrients to stay healthy and age well, just like the rest of your body. 

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (like fish).
  • Ask your doctor if you need a multivitamin specifically formulated to support eye health.

9. You read in the dark. Reading in dim lighting (or under the covers with a flashlight) won't actually damage your eyes, but it can cause eyestrain and fatigue, which can cause headaches. 

  • Turn on the light so your eyes can easily focus.

10. You're overweight or obese. The National Eye Institute says being overweight or obese increases risks for developing diabetes and glaucoma and other conditions, which can lead to vision loss.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of exercise and talk to your doctor about weight loss programs.

Don't let bad habits rob you of a lifetime of healthy vision. Break the bad ones, adopt the good ones, and you'll be seeing clearly far into the future.



National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health