Are you taking care of your eyes the way you should?

Here are common eye care mistakes that can cost you your vision

Ignoring your eye symptoms for a long time

People tend to ignore persistent eye symptoms especially if they are mild, but doing so can put your vision at risk.

Eye symptoms like itching, redness, discharge, gritty sensation, light sensitivity and more are often indications that something is wrong with the eyes. While many of these could be due to minor eye problems like eye strain or allergies, they could also be caused by serious inflammation or infections. Untreated inflammations or infections (e.g. uveitis) can cause vision loss. So, it is important that you do not ignore eye symptoms especially if they have there for a while.

As a guide, eye symptoms that do not resolve within 24-48 hours should be investigated by an eye doctor. If your symptoms include pain and reduced vision, see your eye doctor immediately.

Skipping follow-up visits

Follow-up appointments are important for assessing the effectiveness and progress of treatment given to you at your initial visit to your eye doctor. During the appointment, the doctor may re-examine your eyes, listen to your complaints and comments, review or update your medications, offer advice and more.

Skipping follow-up appointments even if your eyes feel fine increases the risk of your eye problem relapsing or worsening and depending on the condition, you may not even notice this on time.

Always keep up with your appointments. If for a good reason, you are not able to visit the clinic on the scheduled appointment date, call to reschedule your appointment to the earliest convenient time and ensure you see the doctor on that day.

Using an eye drop that was prescribed for a previous eye problem to treat your current symptoms without consulting your eye doctor

Sometimes when people get eye symptoms they have been treated for in the past, they quickly apply the eye drop they were prescribed or go to the pharmacy to purchase exactly the same one without consulting the eye doctor. This is a serious eye care mistake that can cost you your vision.

Many eye problems have similar symptoms and without careful examination it may be difficult to differentiate them. So, an eye drop prescribed for your previous condition may not work for your current condition even if the symptoms are similar. Also, the potency of eye drops decreases gradually once they are opened. A bottle of eye drop that was used to treat an eye condition would not be potent enough to treat the same condition after a while. This is why it is recommended that you discard eye drops 28 days after opening them.

By self-medicating, you may delay diagnosis and appropriate treatment without meaning to do so.  Your condition could get worse. Sometimes, it may appear to get better for a while and then worsen later.

Always consult your eye doctor before using any eye drop particularly if they are not over-the-counter drugs.

Failure to protect your eyes from hazards that can cause injuries

Eye diseases aren’t the only conditions that can cause vision loss; injuries to the eye can also do that. Eye injuries are one of the leading causes of vision loss in young persons. They are often caused by work tools and machines, flying pieces of metals, wood and glass, chemicals, heat, harmful light and radiation.

Fortunately, about ninety percent of these injuries can be prevented with the right eye protection.

It is therefore important to protect your eyes whenever there is a chance you will be exposed to these hazards. Failure to do so increases your risk of vision loss from injuries. Learn more about eye injuries and how to manage them

Not doing an annual check because you think your vision is ‘perfect’

This is one of the common eye care mistakes people make. They see clearly, eat healthy meals, exercise, do not smoke, use protective eyewear, do all they know about eye protection but never get an eye examination because they do not have any symptoms and so think they do not need it.

Seeing clearly is great and important for getting on with your daily activities but on its own does not mean your vision is healthy. Just the way many people feel so well with life-threatening conditions (like high blood pressure) without knowing they have them, you can have clear vision with vision-threatening conditions (like glaucoma) and not know it. Getting your eyes examined is the only way to detect eye diseases that do not show symptoms on time. Early detection gives you the opportunity to get the right treatment before it is too late.  

If you are 40 years and above ensure you get a comprehensive eye examination done annually particularly if you have chronic health conditions (like diabetes and hypertension) or if there is history of vision threatening eye diseases in your family. If you already have an eye problem, follow your doctor’s recommendation on the frequency of eye examination.

Sleeping in your ‘daily wear’ contact lenses

Daily wear contact lenses are designed to be worn during the day and removed before bedtime. However, many people make the mistake of sleeping with the lenses on. Sleeping with your contact lenses on can irritate your eyes. They also put your eyes at serious risk of infection as debris accumulate and germs multiply behind the lenses.  To avoid infections and damage to the surface of your eyes, make it a habit to remove your contact lenses before you go to bed every day. Also follow your doctor’s recommendations on cleaning, storing and replacing them.