We often associate smoking with lung function and makeup application with skincare. But both of these common habits are among some of the surprising ways in which we may inadvertently impact our eye health, says one Ottawa based Optometrist.

Smoking has a number of negative effects on the eyes and things such as not washing off eye makeup or using expired makeup can cause problems as well. It’s very important to have a thorough eye exam at least once every two years. If there are underlying systemic health issues such as diabetes then assessments should be done with your optometrist at least once per year.

The ways in which smoking cigarettes affects eye health are wide-ranging. For example, smoke can irritate the eyelids and eyes’ ocular surface, smoking can cause cataracts (typically associated with aging) to develop at an earlier age and when it comes to macular degeneration (a condition in which the central part of a person’s vision becomes blurred or is lost), smoking is one of the biggest preventable risk factors associated with the eye disease. Additionally, smoking has been shown to increase the risk of developing glaucoma, a group of conditions in which there is damage to vision, with the possibility of total vision loss in the disease’s late stages.

Cigarette smoking has been shown to increase the risk of these conditions. Depending on the study, smoking has been shown to increase the relative risk of macular degeneration by two to four times. Interestingly, although the risk for developing glaucoma is higher in smokers, there has been shown to be increased relative risk for developing cataracts, relative to someone who never smoked, even 20 years after cessation of smoking. And a 2017 study showed smokers were 1.8 to 1.9 times more likely to develop glaucoma whereas former smokers had a 1.2 to 1.3 times relative risk.

‘While the only way to effectively prevent these issues is to quit smoking entirely, the same isn’t true for makeup use. Instead managing eye health while using makeup requires simple changes and following directions to make all the difference.

The most common issues that result from improper makeup usage, such as not washing off mascara or other eye makeup or keeping products past their recommended best-by date, range from conjunctivitis (pink eye) and scratches on the cornea to an allergic reaction.

Typically, pink eye is caused by using makeup that was somehow contaminated by bacteria or other microorganisms. Scratched cornea, meanwhile, is typically caused by a mascara brush or an eyeliner brush or pencil. In addition to being extremely painful, this can open a path for bacteria to enter the tissue and can cause a serious infection. Lastly, if you’re allergic to any component in the makeup, it will result in red, painful, itchy, watering eyes.

While many makeup users ignore the indicated amount of time by which products should be used, doing so is the easiest way to increase eye contamination by debris, bacteria or other organisms. It’s also important to remember the expiration date of makeup items assumes you haven’t opened the product.

As an example, a tube of mascara should be disposed of no more than three months after opening it, regardless of the expiry date written on the product packaging. Also, be sure to wash off your makeup before bed because even a small amount left on the lids and/or lashes overnight increases the risk of getting an infection in the eyes. Makeup on the eyes as you sleep can also increase the risk of a blocked gland opening in the eyelid margin (water line), causing a large hard lump in the lid, called a chalazion.

Yearly eye exams are a key component in ensuring preventable eye health issues are spotted early and effectively treated, noting that clear vision doesn’t always mean healthy eyes. That’s because while the outside of the eye is quite sensitive, the inside of the eye doesn’t have pain receptors, so people don’t typically feel anything if they have an eye problem.

A comprehensive eye exam with a trusted Ottawa optometrist can often detect systemic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension before people have any symptoms. While it may or may not be true that the eyes are the window to the soul, they can often be a window to a person’s general health.

Have questions? Contact us today to get your eye health in check.

Label: Sponsored by Rideau Optometric

Byline: By Izabela Szydlo, Postmedia Content Works

Disclaimer: This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Rideau Optometric.

Copyright: © Postmedia Network Inc. 2021