IT'S IN YOUR EYES
Sight is one of our most valued senses, so here’s how to protect your precious peepers
How to treat your peepers right, and nix common eye woes
To ensure good sight, you need to take care of your eyes. Yet for many people, it’s something we take for granted. Here’s what you need to know to ensure good vision for life.
Go For Regular Checkups
The most vital thing you can do for your eye health is have a comprehensive examination every two years – even if you think you’re seeing well. That’s because most eye diseases can only be detected by specialised equipment that looks at the front and into the back of your eyes.
“For good eye health, start with regular eye exams with your optometrist,” advises Chui Wen Juan, optometrist and Singapore Optometric Association (SOA) Councillor. “A comprehensive eye exam is more than just a test on the eye chart. Your optometrist will be able to advise you on the state of your eyes and advise you on intervention and preventative
measures.” The SOA recommends that those between the ages of 16 and 60 should have an eye checkup every two years.
“The prevalence of eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts, increases with every decade after age 40,” adds Jared Slater, national professional services manager of Optometrists Association Australia. “Often symptoms may not be noticeable early on. Evidence shows that early detection and treatment will reduce the risk of vision loss down the track.”
If eye strain from excessive screen time is giving you headaches or blurry vision, do this: Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen for 20 seconds and focus on something in the distance for 20 seconds. Experts call it the 20/20/20 rule. In addition, take a five-minute eye break away from the screen every hour. Keep blinking, too. “Studies shows that when we’re concentrating really hard, we blink less frequently, which can lead to dry eyes,” says Jared.
It increases your risk of developing macular degeneration three to fourfold. “The macular is an extremely light-sensitive part of the retina that plays a very important function: The keenest and most central vision of a person. It’s used for detailed vision, such as reading and tracking movement,” says Wen Juan.
Macular degeneration can come in dry and wet types. The dry type is generally slow progressing, and causes vision to be blurred and/or distorted. It is not curable or treatable at this stage, but can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle and diet (no smoking, good general health, and a balanced diet with antioxidants).
The wet type is more aggressive, and causes more significant visual loss. Medical treatment is available to limit the condition, but generally damage done is irreversible.
If you do, you could reduce your risk of developing glaucoma, an eye disease which damages the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss, say UK experts. In their study, moderate exercise was associated with a 25 per cent reduction in the risk of low ocular perfusion pressure (OPP), a risk factor for glaucoma. “Have a balanced, healthy diet consisting of colourful fruits and vegetables, adequate hydration, exercise, enough sleep and regular rest breaks from using computers and other digital devices,” says Wen Juan.
Become A Shady Lady
UV has a cumulative effect on our eyes, so the more they’re exposed the greater the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration and eyelids cancers later on. Remember to:
Wear close-fitting sunglasses on a regular basis. Look for sunglasses with full UV protection, with lenses that can cut off 100 per cent of UV wavelengths to 400 nm.
Use contact lenses with UV protection. These are commercially available, and should meet the US FDA standards for UV blocking. Used in conjunction with appropriate sunglasses, they can give you better glare protection and coverage.
Pop on a hat. It’ll reduce UV exposure to the eyes by 40 per cent.
Fit your glasses or contact lenses with clear in-built UV protection.
Wear protective eyewear on holiday, or at the beach. UV radiation is stronger at higher altitudes and when reflecting off water.
A US study revealed that eating one to two ser vings of fish per week slashed their risk, compared to the women who ate less than one serve per month. The fish included canned tuna, and oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines.
Other high eye-Q foods: Green and yellow veggies, such as spinach, kale, silver beet, peas, corn, zucchini, broccoli and yellow capsicum, contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that help protect eyes.