Bad habits that are aging your eyes

11. September 2013

Rubbing your eyes. The skin around your eyes is one of the first areas on your face to show signs of aging. Rubbing your eyes can break tiny blood vessels under the skin's surface and cause dark circles and puffy eyes, as well as premature crow's feet and drooping eyelids.

Forgetting your sunglasses. Exposing your eyes to the sun's harmful rays is a sure way to prematurely age and damage your eyes and eyelids. Extended sun exposure leads to: sunburn of the front surface of the eye (photokeratitis); cataracts; macular degeneration; pinguecula and pterygium (unsightly growths on the eye); and even cancer of the eyelid. Wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays and the most damaging HEV rays whenever you're outdoors — even on overcast days!

Smoking harms just about every organ in your body — including your eyes. Research has linked cigarette smoking to sight-threatening eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, uveitis, dry eyes and diabetic retinopathy. In fact, smokers are up to four times more likely to go blind, compared with non-smokers.

Eating poorly. A diet rich in leafy greens, colorful fruit and vegetables, and wild-caught fish such as salmon can help prevent or manage many age-related eye diseases.

Not getting enough sleep. It's called beauty sleep for a reason: not enough sleep can accelerate aging, and your eyes often are the first to suffer! In addition to red, bloodshot eyes, lack of sleep also causes dark circles under the eyes, eye twitching, dry eyes and blurry vision.

Not drinking enough water. Eye-related symptoms of dehydration include dryness, redness and puffy eyelids.