Ev­ery­day be­hav­iour can dra­mat­i­cally dam­age your sight, dis­cov­ers Maria Lally – but knowl­edge is power. These are the ways to keep your eyes in tip-top con­di­tion

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - CONTENTS -

How to keep your eyes in tip-top con­di­tion

HANDS UP IF, in the last week, you’ve slept in your eye make-up, stared at your iPhone on a long com­mute, or headed out into the sun­shine with­out sun­glasses.

I’ve done all three. And that’s de­spite the fact it was Na­tional Eye Health Week re­cently, which, let’s face it, passes by with­out many of us notic­ing. But your eyes can be up to 10 years older than your real age.

Pro­tect­ing eye health isn’t on our radar, says Stephen Han­nan, clin­i­cal ser­vices di­rec­tor at Op­ti­cal Ex­press. ‘It’s easy to ne­glect your eyes as they may not nec­es­sar­ily hurt when un­der­ly­ing prob­lems be­gin, show­ing lit­tle or no symp­toms. So book in for an eye test ev­ery two years.’

One sig­nif­i­cant ager is smart­phones. New re­search has found mil­lions of us speed up the eye-age­ing process by spend­ing ex­ces­sive time star­ing at screens, in­clud­ing iPhones, tablets and com­put­ers. In fact, one in four Brits do so for more than 10 hours a day.

‘The blue light emit­ted from them can po­ten­tially be harm­ful to our eyes,’ says Han­nan. ‘Long pe­ri­ods of ex­po­sure to it, also known as high-en­ergy vis­i­bil­ity light, re­duces the UVA- and UVB-fight­ing carotenoids in skin and eyes, leav­ing them vul­ner­a­ble to the sun’s rays. So break the phone-check­ing habit.’

Eye in­fec­tions also speed up age­ing, with con­tact-lens wear­ers par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble. Sci­en­tists at Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don and Moor­fields Eye Hospi­tal have found a three­fold in­crease in cases of acan­thamoeba ker­ati­tis, a waterborne in­fec­tion. Not wash­ing hands be­fore putting in lenses or show­er­ing in them are the big­gest causes.

Sim­i­larly, swim­ming, old mas­cara and sleep­ing in your make-up can in­crease your risk of a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion. One study from On­tario’s Univer­sity of Water­loo linked in­fec­tion to eye­liner on lower lids, so re­searchers sug­gest sharp­en­ing your pen­cil be­fore each use.

Lastly, don’t smoke (duh). Han­nan says it in­creases the risk of cataracts and age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion (AMD), a lead­ing cause of blind­ness in the over-50s. So there you have it: time to start safe­guard­ing your sight.

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