I hear many ways how people are looking after their general health, but an area people often neglect is their eyes. On top of this, people are unaware of the everyday things that can be damaging their sight without them even realising. If you knew how some habits can be impacting your vision would you make a change?

Sona Thakerar

Sona Thakerar

There are several factors that can harm your sight, some things are more surprising than others, below is a list of 10 things you might not know can lead to issues with your vision and the overall long-term health of your eyes.

UV exposure

In the summer most people wear sunglasses, usually as a fashion accessory, but don’t underestimate the impact that investing in a high-quality pair of sunnies can have on your eyes. As well as looking nice, a good pair of sunglasses offers vital protection to UV exposure that can potentially affect your vision and eye health. This advice isn’t just applicable to the summer months, don’t forget to wear your sunglasses when the sun is out during the winter too, especially in the snow as this reflects and intensifies UV rays.

The same can be said about sunbeds. There is constant discussion about the damage sunbeds cause to skin, however what is less documented is the harm they can do to your eyes. The concentrated UV exposure from sunbeds can lead to serious problems and can burn the delicate surface of the eyes. Although I wouldn’t recommend using a sunbed, if you do, eye protection is a must.

Computer and mobile phone screens 

We all know that too much time at your computer screen isn’t good for you, but did you know it could also be harming your vision? Looking at a screen for too long can affect the muscles of the eyes. Viewing a screen at short range can be tiring for the eye muscles, so make sure you take regular breaks from screens and get the muscles stretching – for example, looking out the window or going for a walk. Your blink rate also reduces when looking at screens which can cause tear evaporation and therefore dry eyes.

Continuously dry eyes

Dry eyes from environmental factors such as hay fever, dust and air conditioning can lead to itchiness, and a general feeling of being uncomfortable, but left untreated this condition could make your eyes more susceptible to scratches and infection. You can use lubricating eye drops however make sure they are good quality, or you could end up doing more damage – one of the common causes for dry eyes is too much screen time, so you have been warned!

Being exposed to tobacco smoke

That’s right, it’s not just your lungs or skin that can be damaged through smoking or passive smoking. Tobacco and nicotine damages the small blood vessels in your eyes which can cause cataracts and macular degeneration. Research suggests smokers are up to three times more likely to develop cataracts and four times more likely to develop macular degeneration.

Swimming without goggles

Pool water poses a danger to the eyes and an even greater risk when wearing contact lenses. Contact lenses can bind bacteria to the cornea, so it has a chance to breed and multiply. It is especially dangerous if you are wearing monthly lenses and you do not clean them thoroughly after a swim. My best advice is to always use daily lenses with goggles in swimming pools. That way you can throw away the lenses after swimming without worrying about giving them a good clean and avoid any risk of potential damage to the eyes.


People need to be careful to not misuse eye makeup. A build-up of eye liner and mascara along the eyelid can block the important oil glands located there and cause a stagnant environment that bacteria love to breed in - causing infections. So be sure to give the area a thorough clean when removing makeup.

Not cleaning your contact lenses regularly

If you wear monthly contact lenses you probably already know how important it is to keep them clean. If you don’t look after your contact lenses it can lead to a number of difficulties such as corneal ulcers and infections.

Not looking after your health

Things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, if not under control can have a negative affect on not just your health, but also put you at risk of vision loss. By keeping control of things like blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol you can maintain good eyesight!

On top of this, not eating a balanced diet is not only bad for your overall health but can also affect your eyes. It is important to ensure there are enough greens in your diet as this relates directly to the maintenance of your macular health.

Using preservative packed lubricating eye drops

Using eye drops that contain preservatives can actually make symptoms worse especially if your intention is to reduce the redness of the eyes, preservatives in eye drops can actually exacerbate this. If you are using drops, make sure they are preservative free, this will be a lot better for your eyes.

Not enough sleep

Both lack of sleep and general fatigue can affect our vision – from research we know that eye spasms and dry eyes can be the result of having less than five hours sleep. So, try to get enough rest, your eyes will thank you for it!

Sona Thakerar is an award-winning optometrist, McOptom and Sports Vision Practitioner and founder of Aston & Woods, an opticians that combines a premium approach to clinical eyecare, alongside a high-end eyewear offering. Visit http://www.astonandwoods.com/ for more information.

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