I once stood in Panera with a group of friends, pretending to mull over my various dinner options. What I was actually doing was trying to make out the small print. I spent several minutes attempting to decipher the blurry nonsense before turning to one of my friends and asking her to read it for me. Her response was, “I was hoping you could do the same.” Neither one of us could make out a word. We eventually scurried up to the counter and, leaning forward as far as possible, read the phrase we had devoted so much time and squinting to: With Your Choice of Side. Mortified by our lack of vision, we ordered and spent the meal lamenting our eyesight, cursing genetics and wishing there was something we could do. But we went no further than that. When we returned home, we changed not a one of our habits, continuing to use old lens cases and mishandle contacts. What’s sad is that everybody’s doing it; everyone is simultaneously cursing and abusing their vision.
Nearly fifty percent of Americans are more concerned with their eyesight than their memory, mobility or hearing. They rank it as one of their top priorities; however, they do and know little about it. Seventy-nine percent of contact wearers have swum, showered, slept overnight or over-worn their lenses. They seldom properly clean their contacts, using old, dirty cases for storage and ill-advised liquids for washing. What’s worse is they don’t get their eyes checked; in fact, no one does. Almost one-third of American adults do not have their eyes examined every two years, as is recommended. This kind of lackadaisical hygiene could lead to infection, deteriorated sight and, eventually, blindness. The only way to lessen the risk is to change your habits. With that in mind, here are a few tips that may help you squint less and read more:
• Listen to your optometrist – he went to school; he studied eyes. He knows what he’s talking about. When he recommends a product or tells you how long to wear your lenses, heed his advice. It’s the best thing you can do for your eyes.
• Wash your hands – you are about to stick your finger in your eye. A plastic disc will be pressed in or pulled out. It is, therefore, somewhat important that your hands be bacteria free. Wash! But don’t use creamy soaps. They leave a film on your hands that will transfer to your contact.
• Maintain a clean storage case – that means you should wash it after using it and leave it open and dry when there are no lenses in it. Also, replace it every three months or so. If you buy the big bottles of contact solution, you may find that you get an extra case with each package. So, make it an easy-to-follow rule: every time you replenish your solution, switch storage units.
• Don’t swim, sleep or shower with your contacts in.
• Don’t use “inventive” cleaning methods – your saliva is not the same thing as saline. Do not clean a contact by swishing it around in your mouth. Any behavior that seems similar to that act should also be removed from your routine.
• Stay informed – you worry about your eyes for a reason. Keep on top of the healthiest habits and the newest news. There may be recalls, reformed guidelines or tidbits of information that will help you maintain your eyesight for as long as possible.
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