1. Staring at your smartphone.
Straining to read the tiny text on your cell phone may be the reason your eyes hurt day after day — especially if you’re doing this for hours on end. It could also lead to blurred vision, dry eyes, dizziness, and nausea.
Put down your phone every 20 minutes to give your eyes a break. Or, even better, make the font on your phone bigger so your eyes aren’t working over time to read that tiny Facebook post.
2. Watching TV at night.
In fact, looking at any type of screen right before bed in the dark, including your cell phone, e-reader, television, and computer, is bad for you. The levels of light are changing rapidly, so your eyes have to work hard to process the changes, which can lead to eyestrain, pain, headaches, dry eye, and redness. Even worse? It can mess with your sleep schedule, too.
On the flip side, reading in a dim light isn’t advised either. Although there isn’t a lot of evidence that says it’s bad for your eyesight, it does strain your eyes, which can make them more tired and red, or lead to pain and discomfort. So turn on that lamp on the nightstand if you’re trying to finish off a few chapters before bedtime.
3. Sleeping in contacts.
We get it — it’s late and you’re tired. But that’s no excuse for not taking your contacts out. Not only does it increase your risk of an infection, but it could lead to permanent damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one million Americans visit the eye doctor each year with infections related to wearing contacts. Bonus tip: When you take them out at night, make sure your hands are clean and you use extra contact solution.
4. Rubbing your eyes.
As tempting as it may be, it’s a big no-no. Rubbing them too hard can break the blood vessels under the eyelids. So to soothe irritated eyes, try a cold compress instead.
5. Overusing eyedrops.
While they temporarily alleviate dry eyes, using them too often could actually irritate your eyes over time. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) warns that nonprescription eyedrops don’t actually improve the health of your eye, they just make your eyes appear less red. They recommend using eyedrops for only a short period of time.
If you’re using prescription eyedrops, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions, and stop using them immediately if they cause irritation, an eye rash, or any other negative side effect.