Many folks believe that the eyes are the window to the soul; by looking into one’s eyes, you can see their inner thoughts or emotions. But did you know your eyes have “windows” of their own called corneas?

What is the Cornea?

A cornea is just one of the many important structures that make up the human eye – one of the most complex organs in our bodies. An eye consists of more than two million working parts! The cornea is the clear outer layer on the front of your eye which helps protect the structures inside the eye from harmful matter and UV light rays. It also plays a significant role in helping you see clearly.

How Does the Cornea Help You See?

As light enters the eyes, these dome-shaped lenses refract the light and redirect it to the retinas in the back of the eye. In turn, this allows us to have clear vision and the ability to focus on objects at varying distances. This is why you should do your best to protect your corneas and keep them healthy. In this blog, we’ll share best practices and a few tips to help you out!

Preventing Injuries to Your Corneas

Keep It Hands-Free

While sometimes you may feel the need to rub your eyes, we’d advise against it because it could cause damage. On average, hands carry 3,200 different germs, some of which could be harmful and lead to bacterial infections such as conjunctivitis (also known as “pink eye”). Plus, our corneas are highly sensitive. Over time, rubbing creates micro-scratches on the cornea and corneal thinning, which can lead to keratoconus. Keratoconus is a serious condition that can cause distorted vision. So instead of rubbing your eyes to relieve dryness or itching, try using eye drops or a cold compress. And if you need to touch your eyes in general, use a clean tissue.

Gear Up

Whether you’re playing sports, sanding wood for a home project, or working in a high-risk environment, be sure to wear some safety goggles! Goggles form a seal on your face to effectively block out airborne materials or debris. Accidents can happen in an instant, and wearing proper safety gear can prevent corneal abrasions. A penetrating eye injury or blunt trauma could lead to problems such as retinal tears, glaucoma, or even blindness. So please remember to gear up before you get down to business.

Lubricate Your Eyes

In the long run, dry eye can cause lasting damage to the corneal surface and declining vision. Weather changes as well as your lifestyle choices can lead to irritated, dry eyes. So we recommend using eye drops regularly! If the dryness persists, contact your eye doctor.

Block Out Blue Light

Blue light from our phones, tablets, and computers can be harmful to our eyes. Nearly all visible blue light passes through the corneas and reaches the retinas. Chronic blue light exposure can destroy light-sensitive cells in the retina, resulting in problems like improper eye development and age-related macular degeneration. So try to be mindful of the amount of time you spend on your devices and consider getting blue-light filters for them.

Say Yes to Breaks

Spending long hours reading or looking at digital screens can strain the eyes and cause our eyes’ natural blink rate to decline. When we are staring at something, our blink rate drops by about 60 percent. This causes the corneas to dry out faster which can make it more difficult to see clearly. So remember the 20-20-20: For every 20 minutes spent staring at something, take a 20-second break to focus on something 20 feet away from you. This will help refresh your eyes!

Keeping Your Corneas Healthy

Maintain Regular Eye Exams

Make sure you visit your doctor for your regular eye exams. Eye exams help detect eye issues at their earliest stage, which is when they’re most treatable. They give your optometrist the opportunity to help you correct or adapt to any vision changes, and to evaluate your ocular health. Your eyes’ condition may provide clues about your overall health, too.

Sport Some Shades

Everyone should have a great pair of sunglasses! They can elevate any look, and they also protect your eyes from the sun’s harsh UV rays. Just like your skin, corneas can get sunburned when they are exposed to UV light. Additionally, unfiltered UV exposure can cause or accelerate cataract development. That’s why it’s best to wear your shades whenever you’re outside or in the car. The rays are strong and can do damage, even from behind the clouds. So whether it’s sunny or overcast, rock those sunglasses!

Keep Contacts Clean

Research shows that 40 to 90 percent of contact lens wearers don’t properly follow the care instructions for their contact lenses. Contact wearers are at the highest risk of contracting a severe, painful corneal infection known as acanthamoeba keratitis. The biggest risk factors are poor lens hygiene, and exposure to water while wearing lenses, so it’s crucial that you properly care for your lenses.

Be sure not to use cracked or damaged lens cases, as they can be a source of contamination and infection. Try your best to reduce any contact with water, too. Before handling your lenses, you should wash your hands with soap and water, then dry them with a lint-free towel. And please only use fresh solution to clean your contacts. Rub the lenses with your fingers, then rinse the lenses with solution before soaking them – even if you’re using a “no-rub” variety.

Safely Remove Debris

When a foreign substance ends up in your eyes, you should act quickly, yet safely to remove it. Remember not to rub your eyes as this can further irritate them.

If dirt, debris, or another similar material went into your eye, you should blink to create tears to facilitate the removal. Or gently pull your upper eyelid over your lower lid to allow the object to fall out. If neither method works, try flushing them out with a stream of clean, cool water or saline solution. In the event that the material does not come out, or if you experience pain, inflammation, discharge, or impaired vision, seek help from a medical professional immediately.

Want more eye care tips? Check out our other blog posts!

Here on the Vistar Eye Center website, you’ll find tons of helpful tips and ideas to boost your ocular health! Head over to our blog page to learn more.