Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

A woman's eye

The nation’s eyesight is declining fast. Over 24.4 million Americans are suffering from glaucoma and about 50 million are visually impaired or have various refraction errors (near or farsightedness), and every 1 in 3 people in the country has astigmatism (American Academy of Ophthalmology). Many factors contribute to this problem, but quite a few of them can be easily controlled. This means that by dropping some bad habits that ruin your eyesight, you can save your vision, or, at least, reduce the risk of dangerous diseases.

3 Bad Habits That Ruin Your Eyesight

1. Not wearing sunglasses all the time

Do you apply sunscreen when going outside to prevent skin cancer? You need to do the same for your eyes as UV rays are just as damaging to them. However, as there isn’t a cream you can apply on your eyeballs, so you’ll need to use a different kind of sunblock.

Check out this study from Environmental Health Perspectives to find out how dangerous sun radiation is for eye health. It also explains how sunglasses are the best protection you can get today.

Bear in mind that you need to wear sunglasses all year round. You also need to get a piece that has specialized UV-blocking lenses, as not all glasses are equally good in keeping the radiation away from your eyes.

2. Using ‘fake tears’ without consulting a doctor

About 6.8% of the US population are diagnosed with the dry eye syndrome. The number of people suffering from milder forms of this disease or blepharitis, as they often go hand in hand, is much greater. One of the worst, but very common, habits that ruin your eyesight is ignoring the onset of these problems or ‘treating’ them using nothing but moisturizing eye drops.

The problem here is that both the dry eye syndrome and blepharitis can be exceedingly dangerous when left untreated. In severe cases, they may contribute to the development of conditions that cause permanent loss of sight.

The situation is made more complicated by the fact that moisturizing eye drops are a common prescribed treatment for the conditions. However, blepharitis treatment, in particular, is much more complex.

Self-diagnosing or outright ignoring the symptoms of these conditions, which mainly manifest in mild eyelid irritation, redness, and dry and gritty feeling in the eyes, is a great risk. Overusing eye drops, especially if you aren’t 100% sure that they are safe for your exact condition, also brings a lot of danger.

Therefore, it’s essential to consult an ophthalmologist whenever you feel anything off with your eyes. They will determine what exactly is wrong and advise the most effective treatment and/or management strategy.

3. Staring at an overly-bright screen in a dark room

Working with a computer for hours at a time is one of the main bad habits that ruin your eyesight. However, in today’s world, many people can’t avoid this as it’s a requirement of their jobs. The situation is the worst for your eyesight when you work during the night and have your screen brightness set to maximum in an otherwise dark room.

This kind of glare, compounded by lack of other light sources, overstrains your poor eyes. Some of the uncomfortable symptoms you’ll experience might be watering, pain, headache, and even dizziness.

If you want to save your eyesight and still have those late-night stints of staring at the screen, you have to set up a proper workplace. The ambient lighting should match the brightness of your screen. You can reduce the strain on your eyes further by changing to a warm-colored gamma in the screen settings.

Most importantly, don’t forget to give your eyes a 20-second break every 20 minutes. Preferably, spend it by looking at something about 20 feet away.