Have regular eye examinations. Eye exams don’t just pick up eye problems but sometimes they can uncover general health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes as well. Some potentially sight-threatening eye conditions like glaucoma don’t necessarily cause symptoms so vision can be lost without realising. It is recommended to have an eye test every two years or sooner if you have symptoms of blur, discomfort or changes to the appearance of your eyes.
Eat healthy foods. Maintain a healthy balanced diet, including foods rich in antioxidants. Also include Omega-3, found in oily fish, also. Generally speaking, if a food is good for heart health it is good for your eyes also.
Stop smoking. Smoking affects the small blood vessels in your eyes and also significantly increases the risk of developing cataracts and Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However long you have smoked, it is never too late to benefit from quitting and reducing your risk.
Wear sunglasses outside. Ultraviolet (UV) light is a risk factor for cataract and AMD. Exposure when young does the most harm, so don’t forget the sunglasses as well as the hat and sunblock for your children. Always wear Australian Standard 1066-rated sunglasses to ensure that your sunglasses are doing what they should. UV coating can also be added to your everyday glasses although sometimes this lens treatment is already included.
Research your family history. Many eye conditions run in families, from short- and long-sightedness and astigmatism, to more serious conditions like glaucoma and AMD. Knowledge of problems with sight can help detect a disease before it becomes more serious.
Wear prescribed glasses. Contrary to the myth, wearing glasses and contact lenses doesn’t make your eyesight worse. Many eye and vision problems develop or increase as we get older. Prescription lenses will help your eyes work more efficiently and comfortably. For this reason, chemist-shop magnifiers don’t do your eyes many favours as they assume our eyes work equally and are perfectly shaped and sized. Which is not the case. One size does not fit all.
Take regular breaks. It is important, especially in the prevention of myopia or short-sightedness, that when we are reading or on our tablets or computer we take a break every twenty or so minutes to readjust our focus to distance sight. This means looking out the window or down a corridor. This will reduce the fatigue our eyes experience and ensure we are seeing more clearly for prolonged periods of time.
Avoid dry eyes. Air conditioning, heating, wind, computer use and study can each lead to symptoms of dry eye. As we get older our eyes’ ability to produce tears becomes reduced. At the age of forty we are producing half the amount of tears we produced when we were ten. Lubricating eye drops, along with nutritonal supplements and sometimes lid treatments to reduce inflammation can be used to treat dry eye.
Nutrional supplements. Consider nutritional supplements when there is a family history of AMD, including lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and Vitamins C and E. Recent studies (AREDS2) have indicated a benefit in doing this. Flaxseed and linolenic oils can also assist dry eye sufferers.
Better safe than sorry. The sudden onset of symptoms such as flashes, floaters, eye pain, blurred vision or red eyes can each indicate a problem which needs full assessment. Most eye problems, if detected early, will not necessarily cause vision loss but it is very important for prompt assessment.