Go ahead, bat those lovely eyelashes! The eyes are the windows to the soul, absolutely — but did you really know what is going on within them? Turns out, a whole lot! From eyelashes to your eye color sensitivity, here are 10 things no one ever tells you about your eyes.
1. You lose eyelashes every day. “While it is hard to track exactly how many lashes we lose each day, it is generally estimated losing 1-4 eyelashes per day is considered normal,” says Dr. Ellen Marmur. However, some women do lose less or more but that is relative to the treatment of the lashes. Some causes of women losing more than four lashes per day are too much makeup, allergies to makeup, harsh removal of makeup, rubbing eyes, and poor nutrition or hydration. Our eyelashes only grow about one centimeter every 2-4 weeks, so treat your lashes well — it takes a lot of work to get them back!
2. You should consider sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your side or stomach can push fluids to collect under your eyes, creating under eye bags, says New York City based dermatologist and Clear Clinic founder Dr. Eric Schweiger.
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3. What you eat can affect your eye health. Healthy eating habits will also help reduce the risk of certain eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Eating a variety of antioxidant-rich foods can protect your eyes from various eye diseases, and help preserve your vision at its current state, says Dr. Cindy P. Wang, an optometrist with the California Optometric Association.
4. Sunglasses do not always protect your eyes from UV Rays. Sunglasses that provide no UV protection are actually worse than wearing no sunglasses because it tricks the eye into thinking it is protected.
5. Lighter eye colors are more sensitive. From a vision clarity standpoint, people with varying shades of blue eyes to brown eyes can see equally well. Individuals with light eyes tend to be more light-sensitive. “They have less pigment to block out or reflect back the light. Individuals with light eyes may be more at risk for developing macular degeneration,” says Dr. Wang.
6. Your eye color can change as you age. Most babies with European ancestry have light-colored eyes before the age of one. As a child grows, melanocytes produce melanin. Melanocytes are cells found within the iris of human eyes. Most eye color changes occur when the child is around one year old, however it can happen up to three years of age. Eye color (lightening or darkening) may change with age. “This occurs in 10-15 percent of the population. Eye color changes may indicate certain diseases, such as Fuch’s heterochromic iridocyclitis, Horner’s syndrome or pigmentary glaucoma,” says Dr. Wang.
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7. When your eyes are watering, they are actually dry. “There is a gland that holds all of your tears, and when your eyes are extremely dry, the gland releases all of the tears at once causing your eyes to water,” says Dr. Kerry Assil, an expert in eye surgery.
8. In the same way it’s important to protect our skin from UV damage, it’s also important to protect our eyes. “Short term damage to the eyes may be hard to notice, but over the long term the sun can cause irreversible harm to all structures of the eye and surrounding tissue if left unprotected or under-protected. These conditions may not manifest for years at which point the damage is already done and it is too late to reverse the effects of the sun. For comprehensive protection, consider the triad of protection: A hat with a brim, UV blocking sunglasses that have a wrap or wider temples on the sides, and for contact lens wearers, ask your eye care doctor about UV blocking contact lens. It’s especially important to protect our eyes during the highest UV exposure hours (10am-2pm), but also when the sun is lower in the sky, early in the morning and later in the afternoon,” says Dr. Stephen Cohen, O.D., of Doctor My Eyes in Scottsdale, Arizona.
9. Your eyes are more delicate than you think: You can scratch your cornea with your fingernail or even from a foreign object such as dirt or sand. Abrasions can also happen if something falls into the eye during home improvement projects or working out in the garage. “Symptoms of a corneal abrasion include tearing, pain, the sensation that something is in the eye and often extreme light sensitivity,” says Dr. Wang.
10. Your eyelashes serve an important purpose: Not only are the eyelids and lashes beautiful, but they also serve to protect the eye. “The eyelids spread lubricating tears like that of a windshield wiper across the surface of the eye with just a single blink, and the lashes act like specialized antennae sensing the smallest incoming offending particles,” says Dr. Wang.