Keeping your eyes healthy

Knowing your family’s eye health history is a good way of knowing what problems may pop up in the future. There are a number of things you can do to maintain healthy eyes and avoid potential hiccups altogether.

Keep your body active and healthy

Maintaining a healthy weight is not only good for your body as a whole, it’s also good for your peepers. Avoiding obesity lowers the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, which is a significant cause of blindness in adults. This is especially important if other members of your family have developed type 2 diabetes, as this disease is something that tends to run within genetics.

A well-rounded and balanced diet is important to ward off other age-related problems, such as macular degeneration, which is the progressive loss of the central vision.  

To reduce the risk of developing diseases such as these, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as oily fish like salmon and tuna could be beneficial, as well as foods rich in zinc, vitamin C, lutein and vitamin E.  These include green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, citrus fruits, eggs, nuts, legumes, oysters and pork—all of which add up to a healthy, varied and well-balanced diet and all of which are important to overall good eye health.

The likelihood of macular degeneration is also increased in smokers, as is the chance of cataracts—a condition that causes clouding in the lens of the eye.  They block light and over time, can cause blindness.  Maintaining good eye health is one of many great reasons to make another attempt to quit smoking.  

Eye protection

It goes without saying that to keep your eyes in good health, you need to protect them.  Whether that be from the sun with a good pair of sunglasses, or from injury by wearing protective eyewear or goggles when working on hazardous materials or playing certain sports.  

Good sunglasses are a must.  The Australian sun can be particularly damaging with its high levels of ultraviolet rays, leading to higher instances of cataracts, macular degeneration, pterygiums (overgrowth of tissue from the white of the eye onto the cornea) and different types of eye-related cancers.

All sunglasses sold in Australia must be rated, tested and labelled according to Australian and New Zealand standards.

To protect your eyes, sunglasses with a minimum rating of category 2 lenses should be worn.  These give medium protection against UV rays and reduction in sun glare.  Sunglasses with lens categories 3 and 4 offer better protection, although due to their very high level of effectiveness at reducing glare, sunglasses with category 4 lenses should never be worn while driving.

It is worth considering wrap-around sunglasses to cut down on side glare and unless you spend most of your time outdoors, polarised lenses aren’t always necessary.  

Sunglasses typically vary in price.  However, just because one pair is more expensive, doesn’t mean they’ll protect your eyes any better than a less expensive pair—so check that your sunglasses are rated category 2, or preferably 3.

Avoid eye strain

Computers and screens have become intrinsic to our way of life, so it has never been more important to eye health to employ healthy practices.

Looking at a screen too long can cause eye strain, giving rise to headaches, a burning eye sensation and dry eyes. Luckily, there are simple steps you can employ to avoid these symptoms:

  • Ensure you take frequent breaks away from your screen.  Taking a break away from your screen, standing, stretching, blinking and looking at distant objects will help avoid potential eye strain, as well as boost your productivity.      
  • Poor lighting can also add to the risk of eye strain.  Ambient lighting should ideally be half as bright as your screen.  Reflections and glare can be reduced by adjusting window shades or by changing the contrast and brightness of your screen.  
  • And make sure you clean your display regularly to ensure it is sharp and easy to read.

Regular eye exams

It will come as no surprise to anyone that regular eye exams are an essential part of maintaining good eye health.  

During an eye exam you’ll often discuss aspects of family history which may relate to your eye health, undergo vision tests to detect changes in sight and be tested for glaucoma.  Blindness resulting from glaucoma is due to damage of the optic nerve.  It has no symptoms or warning signs in it’s early stages and no cure.  However, its progression can be stopped or slowed significantly when detected in the early stages—making regular, comprehensive eye tests essential.  

Just by taking these few, small steps, you can ensure your eyes stay healthy throughout your lifetime.

If you have any concerns about your eyes, please call NewVision Clinics on 1800 20 20 20 to discuss your eye health further.



BYLINE: Natasha Poynton is a freelance writer, editor and co-founder of Your Write.  With almost 20 years of professional experience and a background as a children’s television producer, Natasha now enjoys writing about pretty much anything and everything.