As I got older, my eyes got weaker. Something I blamed on age. It never crossed my mind that it was my lifestyle. Boy was I wrong.
I went to the doctor, and had an eye opening experience. No pun intended.
I work during the day as an ultrasound tech, which means I am in front of a computer, with the lights dimmed for eight hours.
Then at night I’m in front of the computer working on my next story. Doesn't sound too bad, right? Well, I found out how wrong my lifestyle was for my eyes. I was told that my eyes had weakened over the last six months, mainly due to overuse, and strain. Now I understand strain, but how do you overuse your eyes? I can’t take them out, or elevate them with an ice bag. I know, bad medical humor but I couldn't help it.
After some research, and a long lecture from my ophthalmologist, I found out that my eyes will continue to get worse unless I make some changes.
I love my job, and I love to write, as do so many of you. So I’m going to give you a list of things that will harm your site, and a few things we can do to keep our eye’s healthy so we can continue to enjoy our writing, reading or whatever we love to do.
Focused staring is the number one reason for the loss of vision. What does that mean? When you stare at something your eyes blink about 3 times slower than normal. So when you’re watching TV, a movie at a theater, your computer screen, or reading a book, your eyes become dry and this creates damage to your eyes over time.
There are things you can do to reduce the problem, other than avoiding these activities all together. Which none of us want to do. When watching TV, take breaks during the commercials. That doesn't mean to stare at your computer screen during commercial breaks. Get up, look away, anything that takes your focus away from the screen. Watching a movie at a theater is different. Try to glance around the theater every once in a while. Maybe force yourself to take that annoying bathroom break during a slow part of the movie. You may have to get creative here, but find something to do that doesn't require you to stare at a fixed object. You can apply these principles to your computer time, reading time, etc. A random fact, there is no evidence to suggest that reading in a darker area causes any more damage than reading in a well-lit room.
The sun's rays, or ultra-violet rays, are the number two reason for eye problems. The ultraviolet rays that come from the sun and tanning machines do massive damage to our eyes. Sunglasses with UV protection are an absolute requirement for everyone, in my opinion. The sun's UV rays bounce off of many surfaces. They also pierce many surfaces. Just because you are turned away from the sun or are driving in your car doesn't mean that you are protected from those damaging rays. In fact, it is usually the most common situation where the sun damage takes place. So buy some sunglasses that have UV ray protection. This will keep your eyes healthy, and you looking younger longer. A little FYI, when you squint, you deepen the crows feet around your eyes making you look older.
As if there were not enough reasons to quit smoking tobacco. Smoking is the number three cause of loss of clear vision. Smoking cigarettes causes macular degeneration, which is a problem where the part of our eye that sends the signals that it receives to the brain degenerates. Over time less signals get sent and our eyesight becomes poor. There is little else to say here except quit smoking, we all know how horrible it is for us.
Injury to the eye is the fourth reason for loss of vision. This can be work related from chemicals or debris in the air, to pollutants or sports injuries. The best way to prevent an injury is to wear protection while working, playing or doing anything that could possibly put your eyes in any danger and if you do damage your eye get medical attention as quickly as possible. Especially around the Fourth of July. Fireworks have sent so many people to the ER and left many with permanent eye damage.
This is a short list of the top things that can cause damage, but our lifestyles can to. We are so in tune to our social media that we find ourselves in front of a screen all day.
Here are some useful points to remember.
-Don’t stare at one object for too long
-Keep your eyes moist-use drops if needed, and stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water.
-Look away from your screen, book page or anything that you have to focus on.
-Feed your eyes. They need proper nutrition and vitamins to stay bright.
-Get enough rest. Sleep is the only way we give our eyes a break.
-Reduce stress. I know, easier said than done. But stress raises your blood pressure, which increases pressure in the vessels in your eyes, causing a decrease in blood supply. A big factor in site loss.
-And most important, see your eye doctor once a year. If you do have any changes in your sight, catch it early.
The eyes are the windows to your soul and you don’t want anyone pulling the shades down before you're ready.
So protect your site so you can finish reading all those books on your to-be-read list, and write all those books you want to write.
No one wants to ever miss out on watching the sun set.