Sleeping in your contacts
For the enzymes and antibodies on the surface of your eyes to work against germs, they need oxygen. Several types of contacts are FDA-approved for overnight wear, but even those can be risky, says Deeba Chaudri, OD, an optometrist in New York City. One study found that the risk of a corneal ulcer is 10 to 15 percent greater in extended-wear contact lens users than those who wear their contacts only during the day.
Sleeping in your makeup
Hitting the sack without washing your face can do more than leave mascara stains on your pillow; it can also clog the glands around your eyes and result in irritated skin, pimples, and painful, raised bumps that can appear on or around the eyelids.
Not getting regular eye exams
"A lot of first time patients tell me 'I haven't had an eye exam in 12 years, because my vision was 20/20 the last time I checked,'" says Chaurdi. But vision isn't the most important reason to see the eye doc regularly. "It's about getting your overall eye health checked out," she explains. "There are no pain receptors behind the eye, so if you have a broken blood vessel back there, you might not know until it starts to interfere with your vision or worsen."
Using expired solution, lenses, or drops
"These solutions have cleansers that kill bacteria on your lenses, so you want to make sure all those ingredients are still doing their job," says Chaurdi. The same goes for the lenses themselves. Artificial tears and prescription eye drops also have expiration dates you shouldn't ignore.
Touching and rubbing your eyes
"Sometimes your eyes itch and you have to rub, but it's best to keep the lid closed and touch only the outside of your eye," says Chaudri. Your eyes are protected by mucous membranes moist tissue that can easily collect dirt and germs. Another reason to keep your hands off: Rubbing too hard can lead to broken blood vessels and inflammation.
Skipping eye protection
According to the National Eye Institute, 90 percent of sports-related eye injuries could be prevented by wearing impact-resistant protective eyewear. It's a good idea to shield your eyes while working in the yard, too.
Not wearing sunglasses year-round
"A lot of people think sunglasses are only for the summer, or that they're only for fashion purposes," says Chaudri. "But wearing them in the winter can be even more important, because the sun reflects off the snow." Failing to wear proper UV protection can result in corneal burns, skin cancer on the eyelids, and visible spots on the whites of the eyes. Make sure your glasses provide 100 percent protection against UVA and UVB rays, and wear them whenever your outside.