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6 surprising habits that are hurting your eyes and how to break them

We check our phones throughout the day and often well into the evening. We turn to our digital devices to watch videos and play games. Many of us do all this and more without even using blue light protection. Even if you’re spending time outdoors and away from your devices, your vision can still be at risk without sunglasses.

Vision problems affect over 2 billion people worldwide – a number that is only estimated to rise according to lifestyle choices and other factors. To encourage the prevention of vision problems, this Pacific Prime Hong Kong article looks at the 6 surprising habits that are hurting your eyes and how you can break them.

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1. Spending too much time on your devices

You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t look at your smartphone, tablet, or computer close to bedtime if you want to fall asleep easily. While that’s a good start, it’s advisable to look for ways to reduce your screen time even more.

A RescueTime study found that people spend on average 3 hours and 15 minutes per day on their phones. Additionally, the top 20% of smartphone users spend over 4.5 hours looking at their screen every day. Improper viewing distances, poor lighting, and screen glare can all contribute to digital eye strain, which has symptoms such as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye irritation
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Difficulty falling asleep

Though there isn’t a standard amount of screen time you should limit yourself to, those who spend two or more hours per day using a digital screen device are more likely to experience eye strain. To prevent this common eye problem, limit your screen time and invest in blue light glasses to protect your eyes when using your devices.

2. Rubbing your eyes

You might have been told not to rub your eyes as a child, and there’s a reason for that. After all, rubbing your eyes can cause scratched corneas and eye disease. It can also worsen existing eye problems, increase the risk of eye infections, and even result in blindness through a condition called keratoconus.

Regardless of how many times you wash or sanitize your hands throughout the day, they still come in contact with thousands of germs. When you touch your eyes with your hands, you’re essentially transferring that bacteria into your eye. If you have a habit of rubbing your eyes to get something out of them, whether it’s dust or an eyelash, swap your hands for a water or saline rinse instead.

3. Using your contact lenses incorrectly

If you wear contact lenses, you’re probably aware of all the contact lens care rules. But do you actually follow them? Surprisingly, most contact lens wearers put their eyes and vision at serious risk by failing to follow proper hygiene instructions. Some behaviors that can put you at risk for serious eye infections include:

  • Sleeping while wearing contacts
  • Overusing contact lenses
  • Not cleaning and storing lenses properly
  • Wearing contacts in the shower or pool

As a contact lens wearer, it’s important to follow your eye doctor’s recommendations for use and wear. Otherwise, you may experience symptoms like irritated eyes, blurred vision, or, in more serious cases, keratitis. No matter how tired you are, always remove your contact lenses (and makeup if you wear any) before bed.

4. Not wearing (high-quality) sunglasses

Thinking about heading out on a sunny day? Be sure to bring your shades with you so you can protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. While those who spend a lot of time outdoors naturally have a greater risk of harming their eyes, short-term exposure can be harmful as well. In fact, photokeratitis (or “snow blindness”) is a temporary yet painful loss of vision that’s caused by overexposure to UV rays.

Over time, UV ray damage can cause common eye disorders and diseases like cataracts, pterygium, and eyelid cancers. But it’s not enough to just wear any pair of sunglasses. Instead of picking up cheap shades, invest in good-quality glasses for their superior UV protection. The only thing worse than wearing low-quality sunglasses is not wearing any at all.

5. Smoking

The list of risks associated with smoking only grows. Not only does smoking cause lung disease, cancer, and many other health problems, but smoking tobacco can also damage the eyes, resulting in problems such as:

  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Dry eye

Labeled as the two most common eye problems caused by smoking, cataracts and macular degeneration can both lead to vision loss. Macular degeneration can make it harder for you to see objects clearly, as well as perform tasks like driving and reading. Similarly, cataracts cause blurry vision that worsens over time and can lead to significant vision loss without surgical treatment.

One of the best tips to prevent vision loss is to quit smoking immediately. If you think that vaping is the solution, think again: as vaping may damage your vision as well.

6. Skipping regular visits to the eye doctor

If you’re wondering how to prevent common eye problems, the simplest solution is to visit the eye doctor regularly. Whether you’ve skipped your eye doctor visit on purpose or just realized you haven’t been in a while, it’s important to go for an eye exam if it’s been over a year since your last one.

Not only will doctors be able to detect any eye issues during a comprehensive eye exam, but they may also detect other health concerns as well. In fact, many health problems throughout your body can affect your eyes. For instance, those with diabetes and hypertension have a higher risk of developing vision issues. Since eye problems with age are common, it’s especially vital for people 60 years and older to get eye exams on a regular basis to avoid vision loss.

Many common eye disorders and diseases have no early symptoms. The fact that they can develop painlessly means you might not even notice any changes to your vision until the condition is in its advanced stages. Eye exams at least once a year can help protect your eye and vision health.

Prioritize your health with Pacific Prime Hong Kong

If it’s been a while since your last vision exam, you’re making the choice to not prioritize your health every day that goes by. With expat health insurance in Hong Kong, you choose to put your health first. However, looking for the right insurance plan can be daunting, with factors like add-on vision benefits, inpatient vs. outpatient insurance differences, and more to consider.

That’s where Pacific Prime Hong Kong comes in. We compare plans from reputable insurance providers to help you find the best health insurance in Hong Kong for your needs and budget. Contact us for impartial advice or a free quote today!

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Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime Hong Kong
Jantra Jacobs is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime with over 10 years of writing and editing experience. She writes and edits a diverse variety of online and offline copy, including sales and marketing materials ranging from articles and advertising copy to reports, guides, RFPs, and more.

Jantra curates and reports on the results of Pacific Prime’s monthly newsletters, as well as manages Pacific Prime’s Deputy Global CEO’s LinkedIn posts. Complemented by her background in business writing, Jantra’s passion for health, insurance, and employee benefits helps her create engaging content - no matter how complex the subject is.

Growing up as a third-culture kid has given her a multicultural perspective that helps her relate to expats and their families while 8 years of working remotely have given her unique insight into hybrid work arrangements and enthusiasm for employee benefits.
Jantra Jacobs