There are lots of quick and easy ways to keep your eyes at their best. Vision Scotland’s Optometrist, Neil Barnes goes over his top 11 tips to ensure you and your are as happy and healthy as they can be.
1- Healthy Diet Healthy Eyesight
You are what you eat and a good diet can help achieve good eye health. Studies have shown that a diet rich in certain vitamins and antioxidants can help protect against common eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Vitamin E, zinc, lutein, and omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial. Some great foods for eye health include:
- Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale
- Oily Fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel
- Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons
- Nonmeat Protein Sources: Nuts, eggs, and beans
2 – Stop Smoking
We are all aware of the harms of smoking to our general health but do we know just how damaging smoking can be to our eye health? Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataract. If you are struggling to quit then speak to your pharmacy team who can point you in the direction of the local smoking cessation service.
3 – Shades are helpful
As well as being a must have fashion accessory, sunglasses play an important role in preventing damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Cataracts, macular degeneration and pinguecula are common conditions linked to increased UV exposure. Good UV protection sunglasses will block 99-100% of harmful UV radiation and they do not need to be expensive. Check that the sunglasses are CE marked to ensure they are UV protected. Do not forget the kids – most UV exposure takes place in childhood!
4- Don’t Underestimate The Power of Protective Eyewear
Safety glasses are recommended for anyone who is exposed to hazardous airborne material at work or home. Your employer has a legal responsibility to provide employees with the appropriate safety eyewear for the job. Safety glasses can also be used for sports such as squash.
5 – Avoid Excessive Exposure To Computer Screens
There is no escaping the daily use of an electronic screen – phone/ tablet/ laptop/ desktop. Spending too much time in front of a screen can not only cause pain in the neck, back, shoulders, and eyes, but it can also affect your eye health. You can develop eye problems from prolonged exposure to the computer/phone screen.
- Dry eyes – you blink six times less when using a computer!
- Blurry vision
Some precautionary measures include:
- Choose a supportive and comfortable chair that you can place on the floor so that your feet rest flat.
- Wear the correct prescription glasses/ contact lenses. Your optometrist will recommend the most suitable prescription for you. Sometimes this means a separate prescription solely for the purpose of using the computer.
- If your eyes get dry, blink more. This is easier said than done but it will make a big difference.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. These regular micro breaks allow the eye muscles to relax and refocus
- Taking a 15-minute breaks every 2 hours – get up from the chair and move away!
- Stay hydrated – drinking plenty of water can help the battle against dry eye and focusing issues.
6 -Regular Eye Checks
It is important to have regular eye exams. Your eyes require special care as they are one of the most complex organs in your body. Certain conditions such as glaucoma can be difficult to detect because sufferers will not always have symptoms to begin with. Only an eye specialist is qualified to spot these conditions using the right equipment and knowledge. The NHS recommends a comprehensive exam every two years. Children and those who have an underlying health conditions such as diabetes or are considered at greater risk of developing certain eye conditions, should have an eye exam once a year.
7- Be Watchful for Eye Problems – Check for Signs
Keep an eye on your eyesight and be alert for changes in your vision. Any of the following symptoms warrants an appointment with your optometrist.
- Hazy vision
- Double vision
- Low light conditions may cause difficulty seeing
- Red eyes for prolonged periods
- Constant eye swelling and pain
- Frequent flashes of light
8- Take a look at your family health history
Many factors can influence your chances of getting an unwelcome eye condition. Eye disease is often hereditary meaning that you are at an increased risk of developing a condition if someone else in the family has it. Talk to your family members and speak to your optometrist about any family history of eye disease.
9 – Fresh Air
Fresh air is good for the heart, lungs, brain and mind. The cornea (the outer most part of the eye) does not have its own oxygen supply so get out and enjoy the fresh air and let your eyes breathe!
10 – Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes
Rubbing your eyes excessively can cause more harm than good. If your eyes are prone to being itchy then you may have a very common condition such as blepharitis or you may have an allergy. Seek advice from your optometrist to help cut out this irritable habit.
11 – Be Careful about Your Contacts
Contact lenses are medical products and it is important that they are treated as such. Poor contact lens compliance such as swimming with contact lenses in or using tap water with contact lenses can lead to a very severe and potentially blinding eye condition called acanthamoeba keratitis. You should only ever wear contact lenses that have been fitted by a qualified eye specialist and you should always follow their advice on how often you can wear them and how to look after them.