From the moment we wake up to the moment we settle in for the night, our eyes are our greatest tools for navigating through our day. Given how much we rely on our eyes, it’s important to take steps to work on preserving our vision in the years to come. And one of the best ways to do this is to ensure that you’re not making a serious eye care mistake during your day-to-day life.

Not sure about whether you’re doing everything right or not? Keep reading to make sure none of the following eye care mistakes have become a part of your daily routine:

health-664031_640.jpg 1) Skipping annual eye exams. It doesn’t matter if your vision was perfect during your last eye exam – annual eye exams are a must when it comes to taking care of your vision. Annual eye exams aren’t just about ensuring that you have 20/20 vision: they’re also a valuable tool for doctors. These exams allow ophthalmologists to check and monitor for developing issues, such as broken or inflamed blood vessels or even the growth of a tumor. Since you cannot feel pain within your eye, regular exams are the only way your doctors can catch issues such as these early - and the earlier an issue is caught, the better!

2) Ignoring long-term symptoms or issues. While we all experience an off day with our eyes, long-term issues should never be ignored. For example, if you regularly experience dry eye or redness, you shouldn’t brush these off as no big deal and treat them yourself. If these sorts of issues persist for an extended period of time, you need to visit with an ophthalmologist who can diagnose the root of the problem. Their feedback will not only provide you with relief from a long-term issue - it will also ensure that you get the correct treatment for your symptoms, and will even minimize your risk of experiencing an adverse reaction to taking the wrong kind of OTC medication for too long.

3) Not wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses are your eyes’ best friend – and not just during the summer! Sunglasses do more than help you see more clearly on a bright summer day: they also protect your eyes from UV rays. And UV radiation doesn’t stop affecting your skin and eyes just because the temperature drops during the winter; in fact, it can affect your eyes even more in the winter due to the way that sunlight reflects off of the snow. To constantly and truly protect your eyes from UV rays and the damage they can do, you should keep a pair of sunglasses on hand year round.

4) Staring at electronic devices and screens. While it can be difficult to put down our computers, tablets, and smartphones, doing so periodically will do your eyes a world of good. For starters, it will give them a break from the light of your electronics’ screens. It will also help cut down on the amount of eye strain and headaches you experience when you force your eyes to carry out the same task for hours on end. The 20-20-20 rule is your friend when dealing with electronics: for every 20 minutes you look at a screen, take a 20-second break to look elsewhere (preferably on an item that’s at least 20 feet away!) and refocus your eyes. Don’t forget to actively blink during this break, too!

5) Sleeping in contact lenses. If you wear contacts, you should always avoid sleeping in them. Extended contact use, such as when we sleep with our lenses in, has been tied to an increased risk of developing a corneal ulcer, not to mention a higher chance of developing an eye infection. Even if your contacts are approved for overnight use, and even if you just want a 20-minute nap, you’re better off just taking your lenses out when you head to bed. Fortunately, simply taking out your lenses and cleaning them properly while you sleep is all it takes to avoid this eye care mistake!

6) Using old drop, solution or contact lenses. Holding on to any eye care products past their expiration date is a bad idea. Like any medication, eye drops should be used by a certain date, and you should speak with a doctor before using them past their expiration date to ensure there won’t be any problems after that point. Contact solutions, on the other hand, need to be disposed of after they expire, as they lose the ability to properly clean your contact lenses over time. This means that using old eyecare products puts you at a higher risk of exposing your eyes to bacteria - and the last thing you want to do is accidentally infect your eyes when putting your contacts in!

7) Wearing and removing makeup improperly. While plenty has been said about makeup and its effects on our skin, very few people talk about makeup’s impact on our eyes. As it turns out, wearing makeup improperly – for example, if you add it to the inside of your lower lashes – can lead to problems when the product mixes in with your tears. It’s especially problematic if the makeup product settles in your eyes on your contacts, as this buildup can deprive your eyes of oxygen during the day or expose your eyes to bacteria. Using expired makeup is another mistake, since many makeup containers become a home to bacteria over time. And be especially sure to always remove your makeup before heading to sleep – otherwise, items such as the glue holding your false eyelashes in place could irritate your eyes.

These 7 common eye care mistakes show how a range of things could be detrimental to our vision and our eyes’ health in the wrong circumstances. Fortunately, each of these mistakes can also be easily corrected. Whether you need to schedule an exam, remember to take your contact lenses out or otherwise, now is the time to begin correcting the bad habits that are contributing to a poor daily eye care regimen.

Image courtesy of