Your Health — Eye drops

Health Reports

Red, itchy, dry eyes seem to be soothed by over-the-counter eye drops, but doctors say long-term overuse can do more harm than good.

Preservatives in eye drops give them a longer shelf life, but the chemicals can irritate the eyes. If you’re using the eye drops more than four times a day, consider switching to a preservative-free brand such as Systane Refresh and Soothe. And don’t forget about the skin around your eye.

Dr. George A. Cioffi, an ophthalmologist at Columbia University explains: “Unfortunately, the skin around your eye is some of the most vulnerable to the sun both in terms of just sun damage but also in terms of developing cancers.”

34 percent of adults have experienced symptoms of prolonged UV exposure such as eye irritation, trouble seeing, and red or swollen eyes. UV damage from the sun to your eyes can occur in as little as 15 minutes.

Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with a UV protection level of 95 to 100 percent. Also, remember that not taking care of underlying medical conditions can lead to vision loss.

“Hypertension, diabetes, all these systemic risk factors,” said Dr. Meghal Gagrani from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, “they kind of add on to what damage can happen because of the raised interocular pressure.”

About one in three adults over the age of 40 have some sign of diabetic retinopathy, but early intervention can reduce risk of blindness by 95 percent.

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