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Senior woman smiling faceOur eyes help us to see the world around us. They make it possible for us to drive, read the written word and observe the beauty of Mother Nature. They’re also incredibly durable. However, they aren’t invincible. Here’s a closer look at four bad habits that can cause damage to your eyes over time. The good news? They are easy to avoid.

Not wearing sunglasses. Every time you go outside, your eyes are exposed to the sun’s powerful rays. These rays don’t just damage your skin, they can negatively impact the health of your eyes as well. Protecting your vision is as easy as wearing a quality pair of UV-blocking sunglasses. Make sure to wear your sunglasses on cloudy days as well; UV rays are always present.

Staring at electronic screens. Modern work involves spending long periods of time looking at electronic screens. Whether you’re writing emails to colleagues or using a smartphone to catch up on the latest news, all of that screen time causes strain. There’s actually a name for this condition: computer vision syndrome. If your job requires you to work at a computer for lengthy periods of time, make sure to take frequent breaks and look away from your workspace whenever possible. Be aware of how much time you spend looking at screens each day and make sure you allocate time to give your eyes a proper break.

Sleeping with your contacts in. No matter which kind of contacts you wear, follow all usage guidelines and recommendations. It’s vital for keeping your eyes healthy. There are many people who either forget to take their contacts out when they sleep or don’t think sleeping in contacts can damage their eyes. Not following best practices when wearing contacts can do serious damage to your eyes.

Not getting regular eye exams. Glaucoma is a sneaky group of eye diseases that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve and can cause vision loss and blindness. The symptoms can start so slowly that they often go unnoticed in the early stages, when glaucoma is the most treatable. In fact, it’s estimated that half of all Americans ages 40 and older with glaucoma don’t know they have it, according to the National Eye Institute. The lack of early symptoms is one important reason why glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Regular eye exams, especially after age 50, are vital.