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What Everyone Should Know about Protecting Their Eyes

Of the five senses, sight is perhaps the most precious of all. Imagine missing out on brilliant sunsets, the smile of a loved one or even an episode of your favorite TV show. But of course, proper eye care is no joking matter, and you could be making crucial mistakes that could put your continued healthy vision in jeopardy every day.

Even though our understanding of how the eyes work and our ability to correct vision impairment increases all the time, there are more hazards to excellent and long lasting vision as well. From protecting yourself from glowing computer screens to harmful rays of sun, there are certain steps you can take to ensure a lifetime of sight.

Eye Strain

One of the most common problems that affects millions of people every day is eye strain. The cause is rather self explanatory: eye strain is caused by overworking your eyes. This can come about from a wide variety of easily correctable and seemingly normal activities, however.

The symptoms of eye strain can range from an annoying itch to painful headaches and even migraines. Many sufferers also report sore eyes or blurred vision as well. What’s more, eye strain can exacerbate vision problems you may not even realize you have or obscure the symptoms of potential problems, such as nearsightedness. Here are a few examples of common activities that are likely to lead to eye strain.

Working with Computers

Today’s world is filled with glowing screens of all shapes and sizes. From your computer at work, laptop at home, cell phone on the go or even your TV screen, all screens can cause eye strain.

Screen related strain is usually caused by two things: when working with computers, people tend to blink much less frequently than usual, causing dry eyes, and the continued focusing on a small area for a prolonged period can stress eye out quickly.

You can combat computer screen-related eye strain by reducing light contrast in your work area. Try to keep the ambient light about equal to the brightness of your screen. Also, take breaks every twenty minutes to focus on an object in the distance.

Low Light Situations

The problem with realizing the dangers of reading with too little light is something akin to listening to loud music with headphones. At the time, the problem seems innocuous enough, but it can lead to significant eye strain and all the painful side effects associated with it. Although reading in dim light has not been found to cause permanent damage, avoiding a potential headache can be as simple as turning on another light.

Uncorrected Vision

Another potential cause of eye strain is uncorrected poor vision. This type of eye strain is caused by your eyes working overtime to bring the world into focus. It can come about if you already wear prescription lenses but have waited more than a year to get an eye exam. In other cases, such eye strain provides an important service, alerting you to a problem you may not have realized you even had.

If you notice eye strain while reading for long periods of time, even in adequate lighting, it could be indicative of far-sightedness. In contrast, if you notice eye strain during normal conditions where you focus at normal distances–watching a baseball game or TV, or simply going about your day, it could indicate near-sightedness.

In all of these instances, the simple and straightforward remedy involves getting your eyes examined by a professional and acquiring corrective lenses. In rarer instances, chronic eye strain could help identify more involved problems like astigmatism or glaucoma. A licensed eye doctor can also help diagnose and treat these conditions.

Sun Damage

Another unnecessarily common form of eye damage is caused by exposure to the sun. Even though millions of people shell out lots of money each year on sun block, comparatively few take the necessary steps to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays. Unfortunately, not all sunglasses are effective at blocking the most harmful waves of light.

When purchasing a pair of shades, be sure to buy glasses that purport to block 99 or 100 percent of UVA and UVB waves. This can also be indicated by the label UV 400. The sun’s rays are most damaging between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM, so you should try to wear your sunglasses during those times especially if going outdoors.

It’s important to remember that UV rays can also penetrate cloud cover and bound off snow and water. This means that sunglasses are just as important on cloudy and wintry days.

Your vision is one of your most important and cherished assets. It’s helpful to know the ways in which your good vision can be threatened and take to steps to protect your eyes so you’ll enjoy perfect sight well into old age.

Jon Davidson is a freelance writer who writes about health, eye care and specific products such as Acuvue Oasys.

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