Fall is in the air, meaning it’s time to adjust our summer habits so that we can continue to feel our best during the new season. And at Everett and Hurite, our staff encourages our patients to use this changing season as a time to check in on their vision care. Whether you need to build new habits from scratch or modify old habits to better meet your needs, a new season is a perfect time to embrace these changes. We particularly recommend that you focus on the following:
- Watch your screen use. Computers at work, tablets and TVs at home, and smartphones that go with us everywhere else. We are literally surrounded by screens these days. While they won’t cause any serious damage by themselves, staring at any screen for an extended period of time can contribute to eye-strain or fatigue. Some people also find that their eyes grow dry and irritated when they forget to regularly blink while looking at screens. And let’s be honest: our screen use is likely to increase soon thanks to cooler weather and shorter daylight hours. To minimize the symptoms associated with all that screen use, you should take regular breaks when you use your computer or your TV - and always check that your tech’s monitors and screens are at least an arm's length away from your face.
- Avoid extended contact use. While contacts are a beloved vision aid, improperly wearing and using them is a huge eye health risk. Wearing contacts for too long can increase your risk of developing eye infections. Wearing them overnight can increase the risk of developing a corneal ulcer, too. So even if your contacts are approved for overnight use, you’re better off removing them and properly cleaning them if you plan on getting any amount of shut-eye.
- Don’t overuse eye drops. If you have fall allergies, you may already be stocking up on eye drops to alleviate some of your least favorite seasonal symptoms. However, our advice is to use these drops as sparingly as possible. While eye drops can provide initial relief from allergy symptoms, using them too much can actually irritate your eyes even more, or even cause an infection. If you need allergy relief this season, speak with your eye doctor about your symptoms. They will be able to direct you to a reliable brand of eye drops, while also providing recommendations for any necessary allergy treatments.
- Don’t put your sunglasses away. UV protection isn’t just for your skin; UV rays can cause vision issues, too. And even in cloudy cities like Pittsburgh, UV protection is a year-long necessity. So any time you leave your house this season, make sure a pair of sunglasses is in your bag, pocket, car - wherever you need to keep them to ensure that your eyes get the UV protection they need.
- Grab appropriate eyewear for housework, sports, etc. Wearing protective gear protects your eyes from objects that could damage your eye if they accidentally come into contact with it. While you may roll your eyes at the sight of a pair of goggles or similar protective gear, these items are a must in certain situations. In addition to specific sportswear items, proper eyewear is needed when working with chemicals, with power tools, or in an environment that contains airborne debris of any sort. Remember, you only get one set of eyes during your lifetime - it’s worth looking silly in goggles temporarily when they’ll help preserve your sight for years to come!
- Keep living a healthy lifestyle. Lots of the “healthy lifestyle” advice your primary care doctors give you can benefit your vision as well as your physical health. For example, a balanced diet that focuses on fruits, leafy green vegetables and whole grains can help provide your eyes with the nutrients they need to stay healthy. A good night’s sleep can help your eyes recover from a long day of use and reduce the symptoms of eyestrain and fatigue that you might otherwise experience. Ditching a smoking habit will reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts or even optic nerve damage. And regular exercise can help you reduce your risk of suffering from an illness that could possibly affect your vision, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Visit your ophthalmologist (if you’re due for an annual eye exam). If you’re due for an annual exam, now is the time to schedule it. Remember, eye exams aren’t just about evaluating how well you can see - they also provide doctors with an opportunity to scan the interior and back of your eye for signs of developing issues. Many eye problems don’t present with serious symptoms until they’re more advanced; some don’t present with symptoms at all. And since there are no nerves to pick up on pain within our eyes, it’s easy to be completely unaware that something is going wrong within them. Fortunately, annual eye exams give your eye doctor a chance to look for nerve damage, small tears, and other problems that are best addressed sooner rather than later.
Each of these vision tips is a relatively easy and simple way to help care for your vision health. As we move forward into the fall season, we encourage you to keep each of them in mind - your eyes will thank you for it!
Still have questions about how to care for your eyes this season? Contact us with your questions. We will connect you with your ophthalmologist here at Everett And Hurite and will gladly work with you to help ensure that your vision will remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible.