You may feel as though you have no trouble seeing and you’ve never needed glasses. You have no reason so see an optician then do you? Wrong. Even if you think your eye sight would be the envy of a fighter pilot, an eye test goes above and beyond how far away we can be to read very small writing.
Following on from National Eye Health Week we decided to use it as a chance to focus on how well you are taking care of your sight and whether you are making sure your eyes are as fit and healthy as the rest of you. If you have not had an eye test in the past two years this is also the nudge you need to book one in now!
As well as checking how well your vision is performing, a standard eye tests also picks up on diabetes, macular degeneration, glaucoma and eye cancer. Regular eye tests are important because your eyes don’t usually hurt when something is wrong and opticians can pick up early signs of eye conditions before you’re aware of any symptoms – many of which can be easily treated if found early enough. This week is also a good time to consider how well you care for your eyes.
We are living in an age where screens are all around us and we are all staring at them for longer than ever before. This can cause strain to our eyes and there is even a condition now called computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. This condition makes your eyes feel sore, heavy and tired. It can also lead to headaches, nausea and dry eyes. Blurred or double vision, loss of focus, and head and neck pain are other symptoms of using screens too often and too long. Take regular breaks away from computer screens and digital devices and be sure to use the 20/20/20 rule – look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to reduce eye strain.
Constant exposure to UV rays is not only harmful to the skin but also to the eyes which is why donning sunglasses and a hat is incredibly important. Much eye damage is done to children’s eyes as they are less likely to wear sunglasses when they are out on a sunny day. UV rays not only accelerate ageing of the skin around the eyes, they also cause various forms of eye disorders such as cataracts and eyelid skin cancers as well as contribute to the development of macular degeneration.
So ensure you protect your eyes from UV damage – wear sunglasses which contain proper protection. Look for sunglasses that protect you from 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB light, this includes those labeled as UV 400 and these block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers. If you are a glasses wearer you can have a protective coating added to clear glasses too, like ZEISS UVProtect.
“We forget that UV damage doesn’t just happen to our skin or just in the summer,” says TV doctor Dr Pixie McKenna. “Most everyday glasses will protect your eyes up to levels of 380nm [it’s a light measurement]. However, the UV levels between 380-400sm, sunglass go up to 400nm, account for 40% of the total amount of damaging solar radiation – so there’s a definite shortfall.” If you wear glasses it’s a great way of protecting your eyes. “And anything that helps stop damage from UV radiation has to be a good thing,” Dr Pixie adds.
Healthy eating is essential for healthy eyes. Green leafy vegetables help to delay the onset of cataracts; oily fish, packed full of Omega-3, reduce the tendency for dry eyes and help guard against macular degeneration; and zinc found in cheese, milk and poultry helps promote better vision.
Too much booze is also bad for your eyes. Alcohol weakens the muscles of the eyes and can permanently damage the optic nerve which transmits visual images to the brain, it slows the communication between the eye and your brain too and can make the eyes extremely sensitive to light. So stick to the recommended unit intake per week and try avoid excessive drinking. If you’re over forty, there’s plenty of other solid reasons to cut back on those alcohol units.
If you found this helpful, we have put together a recipe to ensure that you get a healthy dose of the oily fish that doctors recommend for eye health. And, if you’re suffering with dry, tired eyes at the moment, we have taken a look at ways to help.