New research from Birmingham eye experts has exposed the common myths people believe to be true about their eyesight – as well as the things we should be worrying about.
The study, conducted by the Optegra Eye Hospital, of 2,000 people revealed that over 50 per cent believe that wearing someone else’s glasses will damage their eyesight, whilst almost half (47 per cent) believe that sitting too close to the TV will have a harmful effect on their eyes.
And 77 per cent of opticians have also overheard patients citing that a cataract must be “ripe” before it’s removed.
Simon Buttrum, hospital director at Optegra Eye Hospital Birmingham, said: “Although there is no evidence to suggest that these are anything but old wives’ tales, what is true is that people need to be aware of what does and doesn’t have an impact on their eye health in order to avoid long term vision problems.”
Four things we should be worrying about when it comes to eye health.
1. Screen time
Our parents may have worried about us sitting too close to the TV, but this won’t harm our eyes. If we think about computers in their various forms, these are now an important part of life with many of us spending hours at our computer screens, personal devices and/or on smartphones.
Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of respondents admitted to looking at a computer screen for prolonged periods without a break, and over a third (35 per cent) admitted to spending four hours or more on technology every day – so we’re in danger of causing ourselves some problems.
Mr Buttrum added: “When staring at a screen, we see a huge reduction in the number of times we blink per minute, dropping from 20 or 30 down to just three or four in some cases. It’s this change that is damaging, as it dries the eyes out and causes irritation.”
2. Poor hygiene habits
Optegra’s research shows women are neglecting their own eye health by not taking the time to practise good hygiene. Over half (52 per cent) of women do not always remove their eye makeup at the end of the day, and almost a fifth (18 per cent) confess to sharing eye makeup.
Mr Buttrum said: “We understand that with busy lifestyles, some practices fall by the wayside – but hygiene shouldn’t be one of them. So we need to remove eye make up at night, not share our eye make up and avoid touching our eyes without washing and drying our hands.
“Since sleeping with contact lenses is associated with an increase in corneal infection, this is to be avoided at all costs as these infections can be sight threatening.”
3. Combatting the elements
In addition to what we put into our bodies, what’s outside our bodies – environmental factors – can have equally damaging effects if not protected against properly.
Harsh sunlight can harm the eyes although alarmingly, only 36 per cent admitted to knowing to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the effects of the sun.
Mr Buttrum said: “Always buy sunglasses that come with complete UVA/UVB protection and don’t forget children’s eyes need protection from the sun too.”
4. Booze and fags hurt your eyes too
We have long been aware of the negative effects that an unhealthy lifestyle can produce – notably on the heart, lungs, liver, teeth and skin. However, many of us are unaware of the repercussions that smoking, drinking alcohol, and a poor diet can have on our eyes.
While 70 per cent of GPs believe smoking is a major cause of eye health problems, only a fifth of respondents say they are eating foods that are good for the eyes, such as oily fish, blueberries, and green leafy vegetables, at least once a week.
Mr Buttrum added: “Aside from practising a healthy lifestyle, it is important to ensure we have regular eye tests.”