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Washing Your Hands Protects Your Eyes
Since childhood, you have been told time and time again about the importance of washing your hands. Parents, guardians, teachers, and more have continuously hammered home why washing your hands is so vital to your overall health and safety. After all, handwashing helps protect you from several diseases, both mild and life-threatening. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you should wash your hands:
- Before, during, and after food prep
- Before eating food
- After touching an animal, any animal food, or animal waste
- After going to the restroom
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- After touching garbage or waste
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After changing a diaper or cleaning a child who has recently used the restroom
- After sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing
Doing so helps keep you and anyone around you healthy and safe. Furthermore, washing your hands can also protect your eyes from harmful infections and diseases. Your eyes are complex and sensitive parts of your body, which makes them more susceptible to damage and disease. You should do everything in your power to keep them safe. Therefore, you should always wash your hands before touching your eyes.
At First Eye Care North Arlington, we put the health and safety of our patients’ eyes and vision above all else. We strive to ensure that your vision and eye care needs are always met. Today, we are going to take the time to explain why you should always wash your hands before touching your eyes.
Why You Should Wash Your Hands
First, we need to explain why you should wash your hands in general. Whenever you wash your hands, you are protecting yourself from many harmful and potentially life-threatening diseases, including Salmonella, E. coli, norovirus, the flu, and COVID-19, the most recent novel coronavirus threatening the health and safety of millions across the globe.
Some important statistics about washing your hands include:
- The number of people who get sick with diarrhea is reduced by 40%
- The number of respiratory illnesses is reduced by 21%
- 80% of communicable diseases are spread by touch
- Less than 75% of women and less than 50% of men wash their hands after using the restroom
- Damp hands are 1000x more likely to spread bacteria than dry hands, so you should always dry your hands after washing
- Washing your hands with soap helps protects one out of three children who get sick with diarrhea and one out of five who fall ill from respiratory infections
Washing your hands is critical to the health and safety of everyone, both young and the old. Currently, the world is facing a global pandemic due to the emergence of COVID-19, so washing your hands can slow the spread of this virus, flatten the curve, and save lives.
Washing Your Hands and Eyes
There are many positives to washing your hands, as we have touched on already. However, the impact it has on your eye health is not talked about enough. After all, your eyes are incredibly sensitive, so touching them before you wash your hands could put them in danger.
As you go about your day, your hands collect a great deal of dirt, germs, and other harmful microscopic substances that can harm your eyes. While it’s not possible to rid your hands of germs completely, you can limit the amount on your hands to better protect yourself. It is particularly crucial to those who regularly insert and remove their contact lenses. When you wash your hands, you protect your eyes from:
- Conjunctivitis: Conjunctivitis, also referred to as pink eye, is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inside of your eyelid. Pink eye is often caused by bacteria that travel from your hands into your eyes. It is highly contagious. Itchiness, redness, some discharge, and irritation are all symptoms of pink eye.
- Corneal Ulcer: Corneal ulcers occur when there is an open sore on the eye’s cornea, the eye’s clear, protective outer layer. These ulcers are often the result of bacterial infections but can also be caused by viral and fungal infections. This condition is quite common for those who were contacts.
- Eye Injuries: Your hands collect a plethora of germs as you go about your day, but they can also collect smaller particles, such as dirt, debris, sawdust, and more. If you aren’t careful, you can transfer these materials into your eye. Once there, they can scratch your eye and cause other injuries that can lead to infections.
How to Wash Your Hands
By now, you have likely been shown countless times how to properly wash your hands, but far too many people are unaware of the proper procedure to do so. According to the CDC, the best way to wash your hands is:
- Wet: Begin by getting your hands wet using clean running water. Once wet, turn your faucet off to apply soap.
- Lather: Once you have applied the soap, thoroughly rub them together, lathering over the back of your hands, between your fingers, under your nails, and up your forearms.
- Scrub: The recommended time to wash your hands is 20 seconds. If you do not have a timer, you can always hum the “Happy Birthday” song.
- Rinse: After you have thoroughly scrubbed your hands, you should rinse them under clean, running water.
- Dry: As we said earlier, drying your hand is a vital part of washing your hands. After all, damp hands spread far more germs than dry hands. Dry your hands with a clean, dry towel.
Now more than ever, washing your hands is incredibly important. While you should regularly be washing your hands in the instances listed above, far too many people fail to wash them. With the current global pandemic plaguing the world, taking the time to wash your hands can help protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community. You can slow the spread of COVID-19. First Eye Care North Arlington understands the importance of washing your hands not just for your overall health, but the health of your eyes, as well. We urge you to follow these guidelines to stay healthy and safe.