So, you have had your heart check, your skin check, you’ve even done your bowel cancer screening. Good work. But, what about your eye health check?
I think most people agree, eyes are pretty important. In fact, 90% of people report their sight to be their most valued sense. Yet for some reason, when it comes to preventative health checks, the eyes never seem to get a look in.
According to statistics from the 2017-18 National Health survey, over 13 million Australians, or 1 in 2 people, have a chronic eye condition.
Clearly it is a big problem, but there is good news. Almost 90% of all vision impairment in Australia is preventable.
Let’s look at five simple steps you can take to look after your eyes.
1. Have regular eye check-ups
Having regular eye checks increases the chances of detecting any potential vision problems early, making them much easier to treat. You should be having an eye check with your optometrist every two years, more frequently if you have existing eye problems or other health issues such as diabetes. This goes for children too. Children find it difficult to describe problems with their vision, so it can often go unnoticed. All children should be getting regular eye checks from the age they start school.
2. Protect your eyes
One of the leading causes of eye damage is UV light from the sun. It is linked with eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. The best way to protect your eyes is to wear sunglasses with good UV protection and a broad brimmed hat.
It isn’t just the sun you need to protect your eyes from either, you need to consider injury as well. Injury is one of the leading causes of sudden, preventable vision loss in Australia. Wear safety glasses when doing household chores like mowing the lawn, gardening or those DIY projects. Remember this when you are at work too, as 60% of eye injuries occur in the workplace. If you work in construction or factories make sure to keep your protective eyewear on.
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Our lifestyle affects all aspects of our health, eyes included. Diets high in anti-oxidants (green leafy vegetables), Omega 3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin C, Vitamin E and zinc, have been shown to prevent some eye problems such as macular degeneration. Additionally, eating a well balanced diet and incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle is the best way to reduce your risk of diabetes, one of the leading causes of vision problems in Australia.
4. Stop smoking
Smoking increases the risk of many eye and vision problems.
5. Give your eyes a rest.
Most of us spend a lot of time in front of screens, increasing the risk of eye strain and myopia (near-sightedness). To reduce eyestrain, try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look up and 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
Remember, you only have one set of eyes and now is the time to start looking after them.