Here are some things you can do to care for, and help protect, your eyes.
Use eye protection
If you work in an environment where there’s a risk of getting something in your eyes (such as dust, wood chips, metal fragments or chemicals), protect your eyes by wearing a face visor or a pair of wrap-around goggles. You may also want to ask your employer to provide protective clothing.
It is also a good idea to wear eye protection when playing sport and at home when using garden equipment, cleaning or working with chemicals.
Protect your eyes from UV light
Ultraviolet light can lead to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Wear sunglasses with good UV protection and a sun hat.
Avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands. This will reduce the risk of you getting an infection. It is a good idea to wash your hands with warm soapy water before and after touching your eyes.
Don’t rub your eyes
Try to avoid rubbing or scratching your eyes as this can lead to an infection.
If your eye discomfort is triggered by allergies, try to avoid the cause of your allergic reaction. Common triggers include fur, dust, pollen and certain foods. Wear sunglasses outside to avoid pollen getting into your eyes.
Don’t share personal items
Avoid sharing things like towels, face washers or make-up as this could pass on an infection. Use your own personal items and try to make sure no one else uses yours.
Cleaning your eyes
Any eye discharge should be gently cleaned from the eye area using a cotton wool pad soaked in water. Use a different pad for each eye. Always wipe from the corner of the eye (nearest the nose) outwards to prevent cross-contamination of any infection into the other eye.
Soothing your eyes
A cold compress may soothe your eyes. A clean damp face washer that has been submerged in very cool water is ideal.
Take care when inserting and removing contact lenses from your eyes. Always follow the instructions from your optometrist when cleaning your lenses and avoid wearing them for long periods of time. Take them out before you sleep and always wash your hands before touching your lenses.
Sore eyes and contact lenses
If you have sore eyes you should remove your contact lenses and leave them out until all signs and symptoms of the infection or irritation have gone. Infections and irritations caused by contact lenses can be serious and you should see your optometrist as soon as practical.
Avoid looking directly at the sun
Looking directly at the sun may cause damage to your eyes because they are sensitive to the strong ultraviolet rays of the sun. If you’re outside on a sunny day try wearing sunglasses to help minimise contact between your eyes and the sun’s rays.
Be careful with screens
For your eyes’ health, sit at least an arm’s length from a computer screen and don’t hold a screen too close to your eyes. Give your eyes a rest every 20 minutes by looking at something 6 metres away for 20 seconds. Make sure the room is well lit and that there isn’t a reflection on the screen.
Having diabetes puts you at a higher risk of developing some eye conditions. Have regular eye tests and always ensure that your blood sugar levels and blood pressure are stable and properly controlled. If you smoke and have diabetes you have a greater increased risk of developing eye problems.
Smoking is linked to several eye conditions including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, thyroid eye disease and general eye irritations. If you smoke try to cut down or quit. Call the Quitline on 13 7848 or talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Having a healthy lifestyle
Foods containing antioxidants (like green leafy vegetables), Omega 3 fatty acids (fish), vitamins C and E and minerals like zinc and selenium may help prevent macular degeneration. Exercising will help prevent diabetes.
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Last reviewed: December 2019