IT'S IN YOUR EYES

Sight is one of our most val­ued senses, so here’s how to pro­tect your pre­cious peep­ers

Singapore Women's Weekly (Singapore) - - SETTER STYLE -

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.”

Prac­tise Eye-Lax­a­tion

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.

Quit Smok­ing

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.

Keep Ac­tive

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.

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