7 Everyday risks to your eyes – and how to avoid them

Posted on 4 October 2018

Imagine this: You’ve cleaned the patio, and you’re ready to spend a sunny afternoon in the garden. You open an ice-cold drink, Google some new recipes, then take a dip in the pool before lighting the braai and watching the kids play on the grass.

Did you know there are seven risks to your eyes in this scenario? With the right knowledge and gear, you can protect your peepers.

  1. Cleaning products
    While most cleaning chemicals found around the house will only cause surface damage, a chemical eye injury is an emergency. Dr Wicus Malherbe, an eye surgeon at Mediclinic Potchefstroom, advises: “Limit the damage by flushing the eye with water immediately. Use a strong, steady stream of clean water and get to a doctor as soon as possible.”
  2. Sun exposure
    Damage from UV rays can cause cataracts, corneal sunburn and over time, cause your eye’s lens to become yellow and opaque, affecting your vision. Make sure you’ve always got UV-blocking sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat with you, even in the shade.
  3. Alcohol
    A few beers are unlikely to cause health issues, but excessive drinking will very possibly result in blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye twitching and red eyes. These symptoms should dissipate, but if they don’t, see your eye doctor.
  4. Screen exposure
    There are two dangers here: Firstly, we’re not blinking enough when we’re glued to our screens, causing eye strain. To relieve this, use the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something else, 20 metres away, for 20 seconds. Secondly, overexposure to the blue light from our devices can damage a part of our eye called the macula, according to Dr Rob Daniel, an ophthalmologist at Mediclinic Morningside.  Lutein and zeaxanthin supplements can help mitigate this degeneration.
  5. Swimming pools
    If you’ve ever taken a swim in a chlorinated pool, you’ll know that stinging eye feeling. The chemicals used to keep the pool clean remove the tear film that keeps your eyes moist. Goggles can help minimise your exposure, and eye drops from the pharmacy can ease the burn.
  6. Smoke
    Most pressingly, smoking cigarettes increases your risks for developing many health problems, not least cloudy vision from cataracts and uveitis, a condition affecting the middle of the eye. Smoke from a fire and second-hand smoke cause irritation and redness, but this can usually be alleviated with artificial tears and a cold compress.
  7. Grass
    Protective goggles should always be worn when gardening as mowers and trimmers can send dirt, twigs and stones up in the air, and possibly into your eye.

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Published in Expert Articles

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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